Holden: Beefy beast fights its corner

Holden hopes big still proves beautiful for its bottom line

Holden Commodore VF SS-V. Photo / Supplied
Holden Commodore VF SS-V. Photo / Supplied

The latest Commodore is key for Holden in Australia, with the local boss hopeful the new car will show Australians it is world class.
Ahead of the national launch for the VF Commodore next week, GM Holden managing director Mike Devereux says the new model for the flagship car - seven years in the making - is "incredibly important" for the company.

"It is the bedrock for the brand," he says, going on to explain that Holden's focus in designing and building the new car was to change Australians' perceptions of what the company and Australian engineering design can do in building great V6 and V8 models.

"We were still in the top 10 last year in the last year of a seven-year life cycle of a large car," he says.

"We are going to be in the top 10 again this year so, when people say Australians don't want large cars, I have no idea what they are talking about." Sales of Holden's Commodore have dropped in recent years, as the strength in the Australian dollar has made overseas cars cheaper.

The model lost its 15-year run as top seller to the Mazda 3 in 2011.

When the VE Commodore was launched in July 2006 the Australian dollar was trading around 67.3 US cents. But the currency was around 44 per cent higher seven years later and it had been higher, particularly in the past two years. This has made overseas imports of cars cheaper and placed pressure on local manufacturers.

"As the dollar has remained strong, we were here last year with the dollar ... in general price points, cars have come down and we have to be competitive."

Holden is planning their next large car, but Mr Devereux is keeping his cards close on when the next Commodore will be released.

"It will definitely have Australian input," he says.

Holden announced in April that it was cutting 500 jobs at its South Australian and Victorian operations and reducing production at its Elizabeth factory from 400 to 335 cars a day as the dollar's strength continued to hit profitability.

See next Saturday's Driven for more on the new VF, and head to nzherald.co.nz/driven for photographs of the new range.


Five stars for safety

Holden's VF Commodore and the new WN Caprice have been awarded maximum safety ratings ahead of launch.

The five-star ANCAP safety rating applies to every Commodore, Sportwagon, Ute and long wheelbase Caprice.

Even the new entry-level Evoke carries safety technologies like auto park assist, rear view camera and front/rear parking sensors. All vehicles have front driver and passenger airbags, side curtain and new pelvis/thorax side impact airbags, Electronic Stability Control with ABS, EBD, EBA and TCS, an alert for the driver if the rear seatbelts (bloody kids!) are undone while the car is moving, and flashing emergency stop lights.

There's also three ISOFIX child seat anchors across rear seats.

As the price tags get bigger, so does the safety offering cutting edge features like forward collision alert, blind spot monitoring, reverse traffic alert and head-up display are available on high-end models. This week's cover car, the Audi A3, has also just scored five-star ratings, as has the recently launched Nissan Pulsar.

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