Holden starts reconfiguring its Adelaide factory for life to 2022

Joshua Dowling
19 December 2012

Holden has started crucial multi-million-dollar renovations to its Adelaide car factory that will carry the Elizabeth facility through to the next decade.

As production line workers moved out for the Christmas holidays, construction workers have moved in to reconfigure key sections of the factory, ready for the cars that Holden will build over the next 10 years.

The start of the remodeling program is significant in the wake of comments by the boss of Holden, Mike Devereux, a fortnight ago.

He warned that the struggling Australian car industry would become "a Federal election issue” next year, and repeated calls for continued government support.

Some analysts saw this as a sign Holden may want to get out of its deal to keep manufacturing in Australia until 2022. Earlier this year Holden pledged to invest $1 billion over the next decade in return for $235 million in government assistance.

But the Holden boss says General Motors is sticking to its original plan and the Elizabeth factory is here to stay.

"It's full steam ahead,” Devereux told News Limited. "We will be making our first investments in the future over the Christmas holidays and we will continue to do so over 2013 and 2014 [and beyond].

"You can't just go in and change over a plant [overnight] and build a new bodyshop, particularly when you still have to keep building the [current cars].

"There are only so many windows that you get [to shut a factory for renovations] for an extended period of time.”

The body manufacturing engineering manager, Paul Sakovits, told News Limited: “This is the first and critical foundation to the multiple installation activities that will occur over the next few years.

"Our body engineers have come up with an innovative method of combining the assembly lines of our two shops so that we can free up a large area of turnaround space for new model installation without … building extensions."

Holden says it will build the next generation Cruze small car at Elizabeth (due in 2015) but is yet to announce the second model, due in late 2017 or early 2018.

Although Holden Commodore sales are likely to recover with the new "VF" model due in June next year, they are unlikely to reach the peaks of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

SUVs are now the second biggest sellers to small cars in Australia and are often built on the same production lines overseas because they share many underbody components.

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