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Holden hybrid!

EcoCommodore: VE with the BMW/DCX hybrid system and GM's diesel V6.

CEO Mooney reveals Holden is well advanced on both hybrid and diesel engines

18 Apr 2007

GM HOLDEN is well advanced on a hybrid system in Australia, as well as a diesel engine program, both of which could slot into the current VE Commodore and other rear-wheel drive vehicles it is developing for General Motors around the world.

GM Holden chairman and managing director Denny Mooney revealed these facts last week in the wake of comments by GM’s vice-chairman of global product development Bob Lutz that the American auto giant had placed its future RWD programs on hold.

Mr Mooney said Holden engineers were working on the two-mode petrol-electric hybrid system derived from the billion-dollar alliance forged between GM, DaimlerChrysler and BMW.

The first hybrids to emerge using this "two-mode" system will be GM’s Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs later this year.

"We’re doing engineering work on a two-mode hybrid," Mr Mooney revealed.

"It’s our joint-venture with BMW and DaimlerChrysler.” The Holden chief also elaborated on the state of development of the much-anticipated diesel-powered VE Commodore.

"We’re working on diesel – there is an engine that works – but we don’t have a planned production date," he said.

13 center imageMr Mooney (left) would not be drawn on confirming that GM’s new V6 diesel announced at last month’s Geneva motor show was the one, although he did confirm that it does fit.

Due for production in 2009, GM’s latest turbo-diesel is a 2.9-litre DOHC 24-valve common-rail unit devised in collaboration with VM Motori of Italy. It produces 184kW of power and 550Nm of torque (from a lowly 2000rpm), and has both transverse and longitudinal installation applications.

However, Mr Mooney said that Holden was still to confirm a business case for both diesel and hybrid powertrains before being available in a Commodore in local Holden dealerships.

"Here’s the deal with diesel – and you can put hybrids in the same mould, by the way – you’ve got to have a business case," he said.

"The reality for diesel and two-mode hybrid is that there is a lot of money that you have to spend to productionise that – you’ve got to do all the crash testing (for example).

"So we’re doing the engineering work to package it, and we’re building some vehicles to do the development work.

"But to spend all that money and put it in production, you’ve got to be confident that you’ve got a reasonable business case. And I can tell you that a lot of hybrids don’t generate reasonable income." Even without an export deal, Mr Mooney suggested that Holden might well go ahead with hybrid and/or diesel Commodore production.

"From an image standpoint and all the other things it can do for you, you can also look at it as a marketing and advertising move as well – for your brand and your company," he said.

"So you take all that in the clay when you decide if and when you are going to do one.

"We’re at the stage where we’re doing the engineering right now." To the suggestion that a diesel Commodore would surely precede any hybrid model, Mr Mooney’s response was surprising: "Not necessarily. We’re working on both in parallel right now.

"Diesels are very popular in Europe and not so popular in the US and some other parts of the world," Mr Mooney said. "So it might depend on an export market."

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