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Doubt emerges over hybrid Commodore

Eco déjà vu: History could be about to repeat itself, with Holden casting doubt over a hybrid Commodore. The ECOmmodore program was aborted earlier this decade.

Petrol-electric Commodore no longer a certainty as Holden boss questions hybrid tech

14 Jul 2008

GM HOLDEN chairman and managing director Mark Reuss has cast doubt over the hybrid Commodore program, indicating last week that the petrol-electric large car in development might not be brought to market.

Responding to questions at the release of a CSIRO report into future fuels last Friday, Mr Reuss also questioned the viability of hybrid technology.

The position contradicts GM Asia Pacific president Nick Reilly who told GoAuto and other Australian media in May that the Commodore would be “one of the first hybrids you see” with a timeframe of “a couple of years.” However, Mr Reuss made it clear that Holden’s priority was to develop dedicated-LPG technology, as well as leading with cars that run on E85 ethanol fuel (85 per cent ethanol, 15 per cent petrol).

When asked specifically about a hybrid Commodore, Mr Reuss indicated the car was far from a production certainty.

“We aren’t going to provide a solution, we are going to provide many solutions here,” he said. “One of the many solutions may or may not be a hybrid Commodore.”

 center imageMr Reuss (left) went on to indicate that there were a lot of strong arguments against building a hybrid Commodore.

“There are probably a lot of things that I don’t have time, in answering this question, to go into in terms of the price of a hybrid for the average person anywhere in the world and the benefit of that price and cost and payback on fuel,” he said.

“The older technologies don’t pay back (but) some of the newer technologies do.” Mr Reuss indicated that Holden was more interested in introducing more affordable technology that “everyone has access to” and went on to raise the development of a single-fuel LPG Commodore.

Just weeks after the announcement that Toyota will produce a Camry Hybrid in Australia with the aid of $35 million federal government funding and a similar amount from the Victorian government, Mr Reuss said accessible technology such as dedicated-LPG engines would ultimately benefit more people than hybrids, despite not being as hot a topic as hybrid for politicians and the mainstream media.

“I think it is easy for the media and politicians all over the world to talk about hybrids because it has become something that is understandable,” Mr Reuss said. “A gas (petrol) electric vehicle is a sexy way to provide better fuel economy and in some cases it does and some cases it doesn’t.” Mr Reuss believes a dedicated-LPG V6, which is currently being developed by Holden, will deliver more significant savings.

“I’ll give you an example,” he said. “On an LPG basis over a year’s use, we can produce an LPG Commodore that is about $2000 less on an operational basis than a four-cylinder smaller-car segment vehicle, so that is a very compelling argument for anybody including myself, my three kids and my wife. So these are the things that we really need to be cognisant of.” Perhaps pre-empting a forthcoming advertising campaign, Mr Reuss added that an LPG Commodore was “an Australian solution for an Australian car”.

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