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Torana tip-off

In the spotlight: US-built compact possibly based on the Torana concept is planned to be produced in two body styles.

Union document shows GM plans to build a compact rear-drive car from 2011

2 Oct 2007

THE chances of Holden resurrecting the Torana nameplate in Australia with a new rear-wheel drive compact car increased dramatically last week when United Auto Workers (UAW) officials in the US disclosed future model plans for General Motors.

The revelations, which include other Holden-engineered cars, emerged in a tentative contract agreement the union had won after earlier in the week staging a crippling two-day strike at GM facilities across the nation over issues including job security, wages and entitlements and investment in US facilities and vehicles.

The contract highlights included a pledge from GM to invest in future vehicles for 16 assembly plants in the US.

Among these vehicles is the global RWD compact, which GoAuto understands will come off the all-new Holden-developed platform architecture known as “Alpha”, and two new models based on the Holden-engineered “Zeta” platform, which underpins the VE Commodore, Pontiac G8 and the forthcoming Chevrolet Camaro.

The deal also revealed that GM plans to put the Chevrolet Volt electric hybrid car into production in 2010.

According to the UAW document, the RWD compact (assembled in Ohio) and the new Zeta-based medium-large cars (assembled in Michigan) will be produced in two bodystyles each from 2011.

No GM brands were specified, however the small car is tipped to be either a Pontiac – which GM is transforming as its “affordable” RWD brand – or Cadillac, which GM product czar Bob Lutz referred to 12 months ago when he first floated the idea of a BMW 1 Series rival.

As GoAuto reported earlier this year, “Alpha” is also expected to underpin the replacement for Cadillac’s BLS small luxury sedan.

At least one overseas report this week indicated that the Zeta-based vehicles referred to in the UAW-GM tentative contact agreement are likely to be full-size cars for Cadillac and Buick. The second bodystyle could well be a utility.

GM Holden engineering director Tony Hyde indicated to GoAuto at last year’s Sydney motor show that the 2004 Torana TT36 concept could still be alive, and did not rule out the possibility that Holden could engineer and build a small RWD model for global markets.

“It would be no different from Mercedes-Benz building one of its models for the whole world in South Africa,” he said.

The fact that former Holden chairman Denny Mooney now has global responsibility for GM’s vehicle systems and integration also bodes well for a Torana comeback.

“Believe me, I will always have a finger in what’s going on here,” Mr Mooney said in May, just prior to his departure.

“There are still ... numerous other vehicles being considered to come off the global rear-wheel drive architecture. None of that has changed.” Other models on the “Product Commitments at GM Assembly Facilities” list include a switch for the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 from the current Delta front-wheel drive compact platform to the cheaper and newer Gamma platform. A global seven-seat compact van/MPV, possibly a version of the Opel Zafira, will also be built in the US from 2009.

While most of these products paint a picture of the world’s biggest car-maker becoming sensitive and new-age, the timetable also has GM committing to various new-generation pickup trucks early next decade.

Following is an extract from the UAW-GM report released to members this week

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