Holden is in the process of winding up its Australian manufacturing operations.
But the company says that it will continue to be far more than simply a sales and distribution company beyond the cessation of local Commodore production in 2017.
With substantial engineering and testing facilities and staff, it will maintain a significant role in ensuring all Holdens are engineered for Australian customers and conditions.
But perhaps more importantly, says the company, the globally renowned GM Australia design studio will continue to play a vital role in the design of new models, for Australia and beyond.
The GM Australia design studio and its more than 150 staff are held in high regard within General Motors’ (GM) global operations, as demonstrated by the appointment earlier this year of former Holden designer, Michael Simcoe to head the company’s worldwide design operations as vice president, GM global design.
After graduating from Melbourne’s RMIT, Simcoe began his career as a designer at Holden in 1983 to work on the VN Commodore, and by 1987, he was appointed chief designer, GM Holden, and was involved in every major Holden vehicle design program.
Since then, with stints in increasingly more senior design roles in Asia, the US and Australia, he has continued to have a part to play in every Commodore.
As the first Australian to take the design reins of GM, Simcoe’s appointment reflects the incredible respect that GM Australia design studio has in the GM family.
This is evidenced, says the company, by the high praise, not only for the design of locally-built cars over the years, from the iconic HK Monaro to the current Commodore, but also in creating products never sold here, such as the award-winning Buick Avenir concept and the Chevrolet Camaro.
It’s a global approach that Simcoe is very proud of and aims to continue in his new role, ensuring Holden will have a big part to play in the future of many new products to come.
“Our design is already global,’’ he says.
“Our customers are global – it always comes back to our customers.
“They get to see stuff that’s done everywhere and have a good appreciation of good stuff done in Europe, good stuff done in America, China, Australia, Korea,” Simcoe says.
And leading that process, he says, is a dream come true.
“I’ve got the chance to leave a legacy on a bigger stage than ever before. It’s pretty awesome.”