HOLDEN's design expertise and engineering innovation has driven to new heights with the imminent VF Commodore series. Holden has even overcome the challenges of the high Australian dollar to develop a new export line to the US as the Chevrolet SS Sports Sedan.
That's right, Holden is actually selling Chevys to Americans ... and these are Chevrolets Holden has designed and manufactured.
(Up until 1968, General Motors shipped Chevrolets and Pontiacs to Melbourne where they were partially re-assembled and sold in the local market as luxury vehicles, beside Holden's local range).
How the tide has turned - and it has reached this high water mark through General Motors Holden's international reputation for innovation and creative design excellence and in spite of current export barriers.
This is a resounding design and manufacturing triumph for Holden, which already has to its credit the re-guise of its Monaro as the Pontiac GTO sports coupe, and the foundation design, development and production of the highly popular modern incantation of the Chevrolet Camaro (which is not sold new here).
The new VF Series was unveiled at an exclusive event in Melbourne's Docklands last week, but will not emerge in showrooms until mid-year.
Holden's new VF Commodore range brings in a host of new technologies that make it not only the best Commodore ever, but also one that is safer, more user-friendly and more fuel efficient.
The message at the unveiling was that the VF Holden series also brings new levels of luxury and refinement to the large car segment, with a sumptuous new interior to match its upmarket exterior.
"The VF Commodore really is a class above," said Holden chairman and managing director, Mike Devereux. "No other car created in Australia is as technologically advanced, and we're very proud that not only was the VF designed and engineered here, but it will also be exported to the USA for GM's biggest global brand, Chevrolet."
The VF Commodore, which will be built at Holden Vehicle Operations in the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth, South Australia, highlights Holden's advanced global design capability and promises a driving experience on a par with top-marque competitors.
It will also be more fuel efficient. That has happened, in part, due to the Federal Government's grant of $39.8 million through the Green Car Innovation Fund. As a result, the VF features lightweight aluminium panels along with other fuel saving features such as electric power steering. It is also more aerodynamic than the VE Commodore it will replace.
Among its many new technology features are some significant safety and driver friendly elements.
Key convenience features include Auto Park Assist on all models, where the driver operates the pedals but the car effectively parks itself. Unlike many similar systems, it also allows drivers to choose between a parallel or 90 degree angle park. It also gets the latest version of Holden's innovative MyLink infotainment system and keyless entry and start.
Safety features include Reverse Traffic Alert, which warns of vehicles passing when reversing out of spaces, Blind Spot Alert, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and a Head-Up Display, which projects vital safety information such as the car's speed directly onto the windscreen.
The new Calais V-Series sedan, on which the show car is based, will headline an extensively upgraded VF Commodore model range that goes on sale mid-year.
"Our aim with the new VF Commodore was to create a car that challenged some of the broader perceptions people have about the traditional Australian-made large car," said Mr Devereux.
"We have created a car that not only serves the loyal buyers who continue to make Commodore one of the most popular cars in Australia, but also a new breed of discerning customer who wants higher levels of luxury and technology in their car.
"When it goes on sale, it will offer levels of quality and sophistication to rival some of the best cars in the world."
The VF Commodore was designed and engineered at Holden's headquarters in Port Melbourne, Victoria.
Holden's director of design, Andrew Smith, said the VF exterior design was a precise, contemporary execution that held true to the dynamic poise of its predecessor.
"We've taken a powerful existing form and brought it up to another level, with the feeling now about projecting a real sense of quality and technological aptitude," Mr Smith said.
"The styling is characterised by sculpted forms and richer detailing. There's more gleam and polish at every point and careful attention to detail everywhere you look, from the vibrant front fascias and projector headlamp treatments through to the all-new rear end graphics.
"And the key interior elements are entirely new: instrument panel, console, cockpit, seats, steering wheel, switches, shifters, textures, you name it, no detail has escaped attention.
"Our designers set out with deliberate intent to exceed expectations by creating a cabin with premium large car ambience - a wow factor, if you like - that's characterised by a fresh sense of luxury, comfort and convenience.
"It's a carefully cohesive design which echoes the detailed aesthetic of the exterior and places emphasis on rich, tactile materials and technical refinement. The ergonomic integration is excellent yet it retains a completely intuitive Holden feel".
"These vehicles reflect the truly international nature of our business and they can certainly hold their own anywhere in the world".
Holden's range-topping V-Series Calais spearheads a strategy aimed at extending its upmarket luxury car appeal to a broader band of buyers.
VF's polished good looks owe much to great bone structure. The brilliant silhouette and athletic, wide track stance that made the award-winning 2006 VE Commodore an automotive style icon now reinforce a street-smart new look that's fresher, more sophisticated and aerodynamically advanced.
The Calais V's streamlined exterior is also more aerodynamically efficient than the model it replaces. Given improved fuel economy as a major VF program target, Holden designers and engineers made extensive use of virtual modelling and wind tunnel technology to create a slippery new shape.
The cabin design was driven by the requirement to integrate a raft of advanced driver assistance and infotainment technologies and to meet demanding GM global benchmarks.
Given the opportunity to make extensive changes, the Holden interior design team went for it full-on. Their aim was to define new targets for perception of quality and interior harmony, using ‘best of the best' benchmarking data.
The result is a significant step forward in terms of craftsmanship, custom-tailored materials, fit and finish, ergonomic layout and all-round driving comfort.
- All-new instrument panel with integrated centre stack and cowled instrument dials combines infotainment, climate and other controls into a contemporary piece of modern electronics
- Stylish new seat designs feature new structures and luxury comfort profiles
- Quality, layered trim finishes in smooth soft-feel leather and suede with perforated leather inserts are accented by twin-needle stitching
- Strokes of bright and galvano silver chrome and metallic embellishments gleam against jet black and light titanium background hues
- Ice blue ambient lighting illuminates a re-designed centre console with versatile small item storage solutions and maxi cup holders
- Ergonomic improvements include a new steering wheel design and a console-mounted electric park brake button (goodbye handbrake lever).
- Power window switches are relocated to the armrests, the boot release control to the driver's door
VF's evolutionary exterior design is a dynamic, mature execution - more sculptural and highly refined, with exceptional finishes, richer detailing, bright and jewelled accents.
- Up front: the higher, wider front end features complex hood surfacing with a subtle central power bulge; raking spears point focus at prominent signature trapezoidal grilles
- Jewelled halogen projector headlamps incorporate a ‘curved blade' park lamp effect
- Lower air intakes are flanked by LED daytime running lamps and fog lamps
- New front fenders complement the flared, aero-sculpted wheel arches
- In profile: all potency and forward movement with an upper decklid line that kicks into a slim integrated spoiler; chrome fender vents, larger, multi-spoke, machine-faced wheels
- At the rear: a wider, more planted stance. Streamlined, uncluttered graphics are dominated by intricately jewelled new tail lamps that extend into the decklid
Holden's automotive design facility at company HQ in Port Melbourne, Victoria, is one of nine GM global design studios and the largest of its kind in Australia.
Holden Design is an innovative and creative contributor to major General Motors vehicle programs and its expertise in advanced and production design is tapped by GM affiliates worldwide.
It employs a multi-talented and multi-national team of more than 130 people, among them exterior and interior creative designers, colour and trim designers, advanced designers, clay modellers, fabricators, digital sculptors, visualisation and design quality specialists.
The creative team is led by executive director, GMIO design, Michael Simcoe, and GM Holden design director, Andrew Smith
Holden Design leverages leading edge technology - including Holden's multi-million dollar 3D visualisation studio - to deliver advanced automotive design solutions and drive future strategic opportunities for GM globally.