Further strengthening Holden’s position in the GM empire as a center for design and engineering excellence, the Australian outfit has been picked to develop two new cars to be sold in the Chinese market by GM and its partners.

Holden signed an agreement today with Shanghai General Motors (SGM) and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) to develop the cars for SGM and its affiliates in the growing Chinese market.

PATAC is a 50-50 joint venture between GM and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) that provides engineering services including design, development and testing of vehicles for SGM and other firms in China.

The agreement is for a long-term partnership so there could certainly be more development work beyond just these two initial cars. There’s been no mention of the types of cars that will be developed, although it has been confirmed that they will be underpinned by global GM platforms.

Holden designers and engineers working on the program will be based in Holden’s Technical Center in Port Melbourne, Australia.

Speaking at the announcement of the agreement, Holden boss Mike Devereux (pictured center below) said, “Holden is a valuable source of expertise within GM international operations and we’re one of only seven fully-integrated design, engineering and manufacturing operations in the GM world.”

Holden has already helped significantly in the development of several global models for GM including the Cruze Hatchback, Chevrolet Camaro and the automaker's own Commodore sedan, which was formerly sold in the U.S. as a Pontiac G8 and is currently present, albeit in long-wheelbase form, as the Chevrolet Caprice police car.

The Holden Commodore sedan is also tipped to return to U.S. shores, this time badged as a Chevrolet and entered in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series. Chevrolet has announced that it’s introducing a new nameplate to its lineup next year and will be using this model in NASCAR, and the rumor mill is running wild with talk that the new model will be based on Australia’s Commodore. We wouldn't be surprised if one of the cars developed by Holden for China is also based on the Commodore given the Chinese market's fondness for large sedans.

From left to right, the bosses of Shanghai GM, Holden and PATAC

From left to right, the bosses of Shanghai GM, Holden and PATAC