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General Motors today opened its largest single investment in Australia in more than 20 years - Holden's $400 million global V6 engine plant in Port Melbourne, Victoria.

The plant will generate up to 900 engines a day or 240,000 engines a year, with capacity to expand to 300,000 engines a year, which will ultimately create more than 500 jobs.

The Port Melbourne facility is Holden's first new engine plant in 22 years and will deliver fully locally produced six-cylinder engines for the first time since 1986.

Holden expects to generate up to $450 million a year in V6 engine exports, boosting the company's contribution to balance of trade to more than $1.5 billion a year.

The global V6 engine family will be exported to GM brands around the world and power future Holdens for domestic and overseas markets.

GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rick Wagoner, today joined senior representatives of Holden, the Federal and State Governments and industry unions to inaugurate the new plant, situated to the west of Holden's facilities in Port Melbourne.

Mr Wagoner was joined by Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Peter Hanenberger; the Premier of Victoria, the Hon. Steve Bracks; Federal Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, the Hon. Ian Macfarlane; and ACTU President Sharan Burrow,

More than 2000 Holden employees were invited to the event, celebrating the most significant development for Holden since it invested $300 million in a high-volume four-cylinder engine plant and foundry which opened at Fishermans Bend in 1981 and remains an integral part of Holden's operations.

The Port Melbourne facility is the second GM operation to manufacture the global V6 engine.

Holden will share this responsibility with the GM of Canada plant in St Catharines, Ontario, which commenced production in March 2003. St Catharines also produces the Generation III 5.7 litre V8 engine for Holden and Holden Special Vehicles cars.

The first engines from the Port Melbourne plant are destined for GM de Mexico, where they will be installed into the 2004 model Buick Rendezvous crossover vehicle.

These engines will power future Holdens from 2004 and plans are being developed to export to other markets in the United States, Europe and Asia.

The global V6 engine family was developed by GM Powertrain, which has a mission to develop the world's best powertrains. The engine boasts all-aluminium construction and comes in three displacement sizes - 2.8 litre, 3.2 litre and 3.6 litre - with the capacity to be expanded to 3.8 litre.

The all-aluminium construction offers features such as dual overhead camshafts, 24-valve per engine and continuously variable cam phasing. The engines can be used for front, rear or all wheel drive vehicles and are compatible with hybrid electric applications.

Holden 'Centre of Expertise'Mr Wagoner today said the plant was further indication that Holden was becoming a centre of expertise within the GM family, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

He said the V6 engine exports added to Holden's contribution to developing large rear wheel drive vehicles, including the Pontiac GTO coupe based on the Holden Monaro.

Mr Wagoner praised Holden for its "one company" focus, its ability to deliver strong results and its "sense of urgency" and speed to market.

"Holden is very much part of GM's bigger plans for the long term," Mr Wagoner said.

Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Peter Hanenberger, said the Port Melbourne facility was a major part of Holden's strategy to become a niche global manufacturer servicing a range of GM markets.

"This engine plant will take Australian skills and products to the world," Mr Hanenberger said.

"It is the strongest possible endorsement by General Motors of Holden's future as an increasingly significant part of its international operations.

"This helps to drive Holden's ambitions to become a niche global manufacturer, using speed and agility to take advantage of markets to build a critical mass of vehicle and engine production capability in Australia.

"Holden has been one of Australia's big growth stories of the past few years and we intend to remain on this growth path, delivering increased benefits to General Motors markets round the world.

"The V6 engine plant introduces a fully localised six-cylinder powertrain for the first time since 1986 and reinforces Holden's position as Australia's own car company.

"In turn, Holden can build on these strengths to offer more options for GM product and powertrains in global markets.

"It is an extremely exciting role for Holden and rewarding to see the faith being placed by GM in our capability."

Mr Hanenberger said the project had strong involvement from the Federal and State Governments as well as the union movement, which had ensured the construction phase was completed without a day lost through site-specific action.

"This project has been delivered with many hands at the wheel," he said.

"There is no question that the participation and policy settings of the Federal Government and Victorian Government were primary factors in Australia securing this plant.

"The Federal Government's Automotive Competitiveness and Investment Scheme had an important role in ensuring the business case, while the Victorian Government was actively involved in securing the plant for Australia."

Holden confirmed Fishermans Bend in December 2000 as the site for the new plant. Premier Bracks and Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, the Hon. Senator Nick Minchin, participated in the groundbreaking ceremony in April 2001 and the handover event after construction was completed in October 2002.

High-Tech Manufacturing Facility

The Port Melbourne facility's contribution to Australia runs far beyond the initial investment of $400 million.

The ultimate commitment, with supplier investment, is estimated to grow to $700 million by mid-decade and stimulate further investment in the process. As an example, Ion Automotive announced in October 2002 that it would supply engine blocks from 2006.

The 32,000 square metre facility was constructed and designed by Baulderstone Hornibrook and Connell Wagner. Marubeni Corporation led a consortium to manage the design, development, construction and installation of high-tech machinery manufactured largely in Japan.

The plant has three machining and sub-assembly lines for the engine's block, crankshaft and cylinder heads. The engines are then built on a common assembly line before being sent to domestic or export customers. The layout allows for the removal of internal forklift usage, an important employee safety initiative.

Holden has employed leading environmental practices, including regulated temperature control and mist extraction for employees as well as modern recycling techniques.

Access Economics estimated in 2001 that the engine plant would add $5.2 billion to Australia's total economic benefit over the life of the program, as well as a total of 8000 flow-on jobs throughout the community.

The $400 million investment is part of Holden's $2 billion capital program in Australia between 2001 and 2006. It also includes a range of upgrades totalling $408 million in the general assembly area of Holden's vehicle manufacturing operations in Elizabeth, South Australia.

Holden also hired 1000 new employees at Elizabeth to introduce a third shift in June, increasing the company's overall workforce to about 9000.

"The Port Melbourne V6 plant spearheads a five-year investment initiative to cement Holden's future in Australia and the ASEAN region," Mr Hanenberger said.

"These investments allow us to continue to develop as a participant in GM's global product development processes and help fill niche gaps within portfolios in the GM family.

"The GM decision to source the reborn Pontiac GTO from Australia, based on the Holden Monaro, is a perfect example of how this can work.

"In addition, providing the global V6 engine for other GM vehicles around the world reinforces Holden's ability to build on it existing strengths and make a real contribution to other markets."

2 Posts
HFV6= "variety of configurations with fewer valves, multi-point or direct inject

Wagoner Bullish on Holden Future
The opening of a new V-6 engine plant in Australia spells a growing
role for Holden in the GM world.
by Alexander Corne (2003-11-10)

Related Articles:

2004 Pontiac GTO by Marty Padgett (11/9/2003)
How does an old-school coupe make it in the day of the hot hatch?
Big power, that's how.

General Motors' Australian cousin Holden becomes a more important
member of the family last week, as GM started production of global V-
6 engines at a greenfield site in Melbourne, Victoria.

GM CEO Rick Wagoner jetted in from China to attend the ceremony,
which also bookends Peter Hanenberger's GM career. The Holden CEO
retires at year's end, to be replaced by Denny Moonie.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Mr. Wagoner explained the
flexible nature of the 'High Feature' V-6 would allow it to be
supplied to all corners of the GM world.

"It is one more example of Holden's expanding role within GM," he
told TheCarConnection.

More to come

Holden has just shipped the first of 18,000 Pontiac GTO coupes to
the U.S. as 2004 models, and Mr. Wagoner says there's more to come
from Holden, especially if the U.S. and Australia sign a bilateral
free trade agreement within months, as seems possible.

"There is a lot to be gained on both sides if we can get this (free
trade agreement) done. I have not followed it closely but in general
I think I would open up more possibilities.

"There is potential for Holden to be a global source of large rear-
wheel drive cars. The success of the export programs to the Middle
East comes to mind, while the Monaro (Pontiac GTO) is a
breakthrough. I certainly don't rule out more (from Holden).

"Let's get started with Monaro, we'll see where it goes from there.
Monaro is not extremely high volume, but an exciting move. It has
obviously got us thinking about future potential, but we're taking
it one step at a time.

Niche vehicles on demand?

Wagoner gave some insight into how Holden might fit into the larger
GM picture if trade barriers fall. "Holden offers very good local
engineering capability, and there is a passion for the kind of
vehicles here that there's not a broad demand for around the world.
But it is an important demand, as Holden can supply (niche) models
that are image-setting, even if we can't necessarily get high volume
for this product in other parts of the world."

Holden has a small one-ton utility based on the Commodore sedan from
which the Monaro is also spun off. The Ute is tipped to be the next
export from Australia - badged as a Chevrolet El Camino if product
tsar Bob Lutz has his way - once a free trade agreement is signed,
though Mr. Wagoner was less hot for Commodore sedans to flow to the

"If we work more closely on future platforms, it might be possible
that niche vehicles come out of here and the more high volume models
come (from the U.S.). Frankly it's just economics, we can't have
facilities in the U.S. under-utilized and bring in from Australia.

"When you get to a certain amount of volume it probably doesn't make
sense to ship, you build locally if you have capacity."

Wagoner said Holden would continue to supply complete vehicles to
other GM divisions, as well as supplying the HFV6 engines to an even
wider portfolio of GM brands and partners.

"We're trying to manage our brands a little more consistently on a
global basis. It is great to be able to use the Holden-produced
product in other brands, in Chevrolet in the Middle East or Pontiac
in the U.S."

Engine plans

The new global V-6 engine plant is a sister to the St. Catharine's
plant in Ontario that also produces the Gen III V-8 engine (which
Holden fits to the Monaro/GTO).

The new Melbourne plant will stick to V-6 engines initially, though
Peter Hanenberger has previously expressed a keenness to build V-8s
again in Australia.

The HFV6 will be built in 2.8, 3.2, and 3.6-liter guises with
expansion to 3.8 liters expected in 12 months when the engine makes
its debut in Australian-market vehicles, namely the VZ generation

The HFV6 for export to Buick for use in the Rendezvous built by GM
in Mexico is a 24-valve DOHC unit with continuously variable
camshaft phasing, but the Melbourne factory can offer a variety of
configurations with fewer valves, multi-point or direct injection,
as well as being compatible with future hybrid V-6 powerplants. It
fits transverse front-wheel-drive, longitudinal rear-wheel-drive,
and all-wheel drive applications.

GM remains tight-lipped about future HFV6 customers, though Wagoner
delivered some broad hints.

"I think it will go to most of our brands over time. I'm not sure of
the allocation between the Canadian plant and here, but it (HFV6) is
a candidate for Opel over time and Cadillac."

Industry sources in Australia suggest Saab will take a single-turbo
version and Alfa Romeo would want one capable of installation into
an all-wheel-drive platform

Regarding Alfa Romeo, Wagoner was circumspect: "Sure there's been
talk, but there are no specific plans to my knowledge. But that
could all change tomorrow.

"This is our global engine family in the size category," he said. "I
guess any product might use it. Where production comes from depends
on logistics. This engine will get broad-based application in parts
of the world including, over time, China and Korea.

"The Asia Pacific (auto industry) is booming. There's not a huge
amount of V-6 demand, but enough to provide us with steady source of
business, whether it's in Korea with Daewoo or some of the other
things coming out of China.

"Demand for upscale products has been surprising for us. There are a
lot of opportunities."

Not yet confirmed is a suggestion that Holden may supply Daewoo in
Korea with long-wheelbase, Australian-made Commodore-based
limousines fitted with the HFV6 in the medium term, to help fill out
Daewoo's product line in Asia.

In the domestic Australian market Holden currently installs an
archaic two-valve 3.8-liter V-6 into Commodores, and it is possible
the HFV6 fitted to next year's VZ Commodore will have a two-valve,
single-overhead-camshaft set-up for entry models, with high series
adding more valves, cams, and cam-phasing technology.

The Melbourne factory should be able to build 900 engines a day or
240,000 engines a year within about twelve months, with potential
for capacity to rise to 300,000 engines a year.

Holden invested $284 million (A$400 million) in the plant, which is
expected to create 500 jobs.

285 Posts
The Ute is tipped to be the next
export from Australia - badged as a Chevrolet El Camino if product
tsar Bob Lutz has his way - once a free trade agreement is signed,
though Mr. Wagoner was less hot for Commodore sedans to flow to the
VERY cool.

Honestly, though, the Commodore would be so much better than the FWD stuff we have here in the "same class".
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