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HSV conquers new challenges with MY19 Camaro
ZL1 addition, 2SS facelift add complexity to HSV’s Camaro remanufacturing program
7 Jun 2019
HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) has conquered new challenges with its Chevrolet Camaro that it remanufactures from left- to right-hand drive for the Australian market, with complexity created by the introduction of the fire-breathing ZL1 flagship as part of the MY19 program.
Speaking to journalists last week at the MY19 Camaro national media launch in Melbourne, HSV managing director Tim Jackson said the company’s remanufacturing programs always present new challenges.
“You’ll see as we move model year and add models into that mix, it is a never-ending cycle of development for us,” he said. “We’ve just got a constant flow of engineering work and manufacturing changes and business changes.”
Mr Jackson told GoAuto that if the Camaro range were to expand beyond ZL1 and the entry-level 2SS – potentially to include convertible and V6 variants available in the US – further development work would be required.
“I don’t imagine we’re going to expand it much more from where we are now,” he said. “I think (2SS and ZL1) are ultimately the two vehicles that work with our business and work economically – in terms of the development costs and the ability to cover that.
“Convertible drives a whole bunch of other crash (testing) and all that sort of thing. And the volume we think we’d do won’t justify the cost.”
Mr Jackson said it is a similar story with the track-focused 1LE Package offered overseas on several Camaro variants, with its lack of ADR (Australian Design Rule) compliance meaning that further engineering work would be needed here too, although he did not completely rule the package out.
As reported, the MY18 program represented a $10 million-plus investment (excluding equipment purchases) for HSV, while the addition of ZL1 alone for MY19 added several million dollars more to the budget.
The extra overall investment was also increased by the program’s necessary move away from sourcing Argentinian-market vehicles due to Camaro no longer being sold in Europe.
Instead, all Camaros sold Down Under from now on are based on the US model, which means that HSV has to dip into GM’s European parts bin for ADR-compliant headlights, tail-lights and seatbelts.
As part of its MY19 facelift, the 2SS now has LED headlights, but their intensity is too high to pass ADRs, so HSV had to develop levelling functionality for them in-house to satisfy the criteria.
Similarly, the US-market 2SS has four LED daytime running lights, but ADRs allow for only two, leading HSV to cover the lower pair with blanking plates.
For ZL1, coverage splats were required for its rear wheels in order to achieve ADR compliance, as the stock vehicles only partially covered them. Again, HSV developed a solution in-house.
ZL1 was also deemed too noisy within the ADR parameters, where there are limits of 74dB and 75dB for automatic and manual vehicles respectively. This required hardware changes to its exhaust system, forcing HSV to change the muffler size for both versions.
Furthermore, both grades’ exterior mirrors were replaced with folding units that had a larger surface area to pass ADRs, with these purchased from the OE supplier.
Significantly, ADRs require all vehicles sold in Australia to be at least Euro 5-compliant – an emissions testing program that US vehicles do not have to go undergo.
As a result, GM and HSV joined forces to complete the work themselves, using eight test vehicles in Michigan to go a step further and meet the Euro 6 standard after nine months of development (including calibration work). A validation test drive also took place in Australia.
The final ADR hurdle came in the form of crash testing, with three remanufactured ZL1s used for the frontal offset, side barrier and oblique pole tests. The 2SS underwent similar testing for MY18.
Meanwhile, the electric motor on the ZL1’s unique steering rack was found to clash with the front sway bar in the move to right-hand drive, so HSV had to redesign the sway bar and ensure it maintained its torsional rigidity.
Camaro’s footwell had to be widened to accommodate the pedal box, but manual examples required further work to achieve this, with the clutch pedal requiring a redesign due to the OE part clashing with the one of firewall’s structural members in right-hand-drive form.
Both grades’ windshield-projected head-up display presented another challenge for HSV. The company left off the feature in the MY18 series due to time constraints, but has re-engineered for MY19, using all of the same internal components but a new outer case.
HSV chief engineer Trevor Barallon said the only local tuning that was completed during the MY19 program was to swap out ZL1’s OE Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres for Continental ContiSport Contact 5 rubber that was found to be a better all-round performer, especially in the wet.
“We didn’t really want to play with the suspension,” he said. “This (tyre) had the best suitability for vertical bounce and it suited the suspension best.”
Nonetheless, Mr Jackson said suspension tuning and other modifications are “not off the radar” for future model years of Camaro, with 2SS the obvious candidate for such measures due to the extra wriggle room it allows.
“We think it’s a good car,” he said. “The extent to which we’ll spend money and invest time to make it that little bit better, does that deliver a better result to us or the consumer or who might be driving it? I think at the moment that’s marginal.
“If we come up with a solution that we think is significantly better, then we’ll look to implement it, but we don’t have that at the moment.
“We’ll look to get back to it at some point.”
Each Camaro conversion currently takes 100-110 hours to complete at HSV’s production facility in Clayton South, Victoria, although the company is aiming to reduce it to below triple digits, possibly as low as 80.
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