Holden to make small, 'green' four-cylinder car

Just three days out from Christmas, Holden has announced that it will begin producing a small four-cylinder car from the third quarter of 2010 funded, in part, by the Federal Government's green car fund.

Just three days out from Christmas, Holden has announced that it will begin producing a small four-cylinder car from the third quarter of 2010 funded, in part, by the Federal Government's green car fund.

Holden's small car gets sketchy (top); its sibling, the Chevy Cruze, being unveiled (bottom)
(Credit: General Motors)

Although the Commodore is likely to close out the year as Australia's top-selling car, its sales are running at about half the rate of its halcyon days around the turn of the century. According to Holden's managing director, Mark Reuss, the company has been looking at ways to produce a smaller, more fuel-efficient sedan, with the Federal Government's AU$1.3 billion Green Car Innovation Fund — part of the AU$6.2 billion car plan announced in November — providing the ultimate catalyst for today's announcement.

The company is staying tight lipped on the specifics about the car, releasing only a highly stylised sketch of the vehicle. It has said, though, that it will be based on the Chevrolet Cruze, which in itself is a replacement for Daewoo's small car, currently sold here as the Holden Viva. The underpinnings of the Cruze will also be found underneath the next Holden Astra. It will also underpin the petrol-electric hybrid Chevy Volt — heading here in 2012 as a Holden.

Two types of four-cylinder engines will probably be used in Holden's small car: a direct injection petrol engine and a diesel, presumably turbocharged. According to the company, a number of "green" technologies are being considered for the car, such as the ability to run on alternative fuels, such as E85, LPG and compressed natural gas (CNG). The car may also feature stop-start technology, which seamlessly shuts down the engine at traffic lights and starts it up again when you take off.

The 2010 car will be Holden's first locally produced four-cylinder car since it killed off the local Vectra in 1998, and the company's first locally produced Corolla-competitor in over 20 years — the last locally produced Gemini rolled off the line in 1985.

Ford has already announced that it will begin producing the next generation Focus here from 2011, while Toyota will begin building a local version of the Camry hybrid in 2010.

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