Did Holden Just Hint a Rear Wheel Drive Buick is Coming?

Holden has started recruiting a new batch of engineers to work at its Lang Lang Proving Ground potentially on projects for Buick and Cadillac. 

Lang Lang was supposed to have been sold as part of Holden’s manufacturing shut down, but instead, it was announced in October of 2016 that the Australian proving grounds would get an $8.7 million cash injection to upgrade its emission labs instead.

It’s unclear if the stay of execution came from GM’s product development boss Mark Reuss, who has a soft spot for the division after spending 18 months leading Australian operations from February of 2008 to September of 2009; or if it was the rumored difficulties the Singapore-based GM International Operations office had trying to offload the bushland testing facility.

However, Holden spokesman Sean Poppitt told Australia’s Wheels Mag the reason had everything to do with the nation’s expertise as a rear-wheel-drive development hub.

“Our powertrain calibrators are obviously very expert at rear-wheel-drive applications, so they do a lot of that work for GM,” he said. “It’s why you’ll see a lot of Buicks and Cadillacs on our roads as our guys do lots of calibration work.”

Wait, was that a hint?

The Cadillac CT6 has made several trips across the Pacific, most recently last year when cars were spotted at Tullamarine airport in Melbourne headed for the proving ground, but Buick hasn’t had a RWD sedan in North America since the Roadmaster went extinct partway through the ’90s. However, Buick did sell a slew of RWD sedans in China based off Holden’s own Zeta-platformed Caprice, but stopped in 2012.

With manufacturing in Australia ending at the end of this year, could China be the answer to the big RWD sedan question? Australia loves them, the Chinese like being driven in them, and a small band of freedom fighters in Amerca adores them.

China already has the capacity to produce the Omega-riding CT6 sedan. Given the country’s affinity for Buick and being chauffeured in big sedans, it’s certainly possible to imagine a Buick sedan based on GM’s revolutionary new platform being built in Jinqiao, China, for local consumption; plus a Chevrolet/Holden model made for export.

In terms of hypothetical development, Lang Lang is much closer to Shanghai than Milford.

In reality, Lang Lang will likely serve as an emissions lynchpin as GM attempts to balance powertrain development for North America with China’s oft-changing regulations, and the stricter “Euro 6” standards Australia looks to adopt later this year.

The Australian team will be expected to execute nearly 7000 tests per year, spread across 100 models from a mix of GM’s 10 global brands. The extra funding will bring a further 11 staff to the proving ground, upping the number of employees at Lang Lang to 106.

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