Almost exactly two years ago, we learned that General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] had committed to ending production of Holden cars and engines in Australia by late 2017. Just two models are built by Holden in Australia, a version of the previous-generation Chevrolet Cruze and the locally-developed Commodore, the latter of which is sold here in high-performance guise as the Chevrolet SS.
Seeing the value in the Commodore and its associated production facilities, Belgian entrepreneur Guido Dumarey is now on a mission to save the car. Dumarey, who is in the business of buying distressed companies and turning them around, has confirmed to Motoring that he has a plan to save Commodore production and is ready to start talks with relevant parties such as GM as well as the Australian government which had invested in Holden.
GM, of course, owns the Holden brand as well as the production facilities for the Commodore and the rights to the rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform that underpins the car. Acquiring these won’t be an easy task considering Holden plans to import a new Commodore which will have to compete with the previous model should Dumarey’s plan prove successful.
2016 Holden Commodore
Dumarey has dealt with GM in the past, though. His company Punch International took control of a GM transmission plant in Europe back in 2012 and actually supplies the six-speed automatic used in some Commodore variants. Not all of his projects have been successful, though. One of the failed takeovers was that of high-performance wheel manufacturer BBS.
Dumarey said that for the Commodore to be success, he will need to focus on export markets, something GM was reluctant to do in significant volumes with the Commodore. He points out that the car should be positioned as a premium model due to its rear-wheel-drive layout. He also sees an opportunity for its “ute” bodystyle.
As a hint of what’s possible, Dumarey has christened the mission Project Erich. Erich, of course, is the first name of Erich Bitter, who previously took an upmarket, long-wheelbase Commodore derivative known as the Holden Statesman and sold it in Europe under his Bitter brand. Dumarey has acknowledged that he, too, will have to develop a new name and brand, though there are lot of hurdles to pass before then.
Stay tuned for an update.