GM designates Holden to develop autonomous and EV tech

Holden doesn't produce any cars in Australia these days (not since 2017), limiting itself to adaptation of GM models to local needs.

However, the R&D department there still could have a bright future as General Motors is expanding the Holden Australian Design and Engineering workforce by 150 to more than 500.

The new topics that require more developments includes autonomous driving and electric vehicles - Holden is expected to play a crucial role in developing future technologies.

Australian engineers are to be fully integrated into GM’s global Advanced Vehicle Development team and GM intends to spend over $120 million in annual expenditure on research and design.

Speaking at Holden HQ before taking a tour of the Lang Lang Proving Ground, where local Holden and global GM vehicles have been tested for the past 60 years, GM Executive Vice President and President, Global Product Group and Cadillac, Mark Reuss, said:

“GM is determined to be the first company to bring safe, autonomous vehicles to market — not within years, but in quarters. Make no mistake, we’re moving to a driverless future — a future of safer roads and zero crashes,” said Reuss. “At the same time, GM is well on its way to bringing at least 20 new all-electric models to market by 2023.

“The world-class vehicle engineering capability we have at Holden in Australia will play a significant role in GM delivering on its commitment to create a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”

GM Holden Executive Director – Engineering Brett Vivian said Australian engineers had played a critical role in vehicle development for Holden and GM globally since 1946, and this would continue with today’s announcement:

Chevrolet Bolt Concept

Chevrolet Bolt Concept

"“This announcement of 150 new engineers at Holden to work on global advanced vehicle development comes on top of significant upgrades we have made to the emissions test lab and test tracks at our Lang Lang Proving Ground,” said Vivian.

“Holden’s engineering unit has a bright future undertaking important local and global work, from ensuring imported Holden vehicles can master Australia’s unique driving conditions, to developing the technologies that will power the future of mobility globally.

“With today’s announcement, we will now be spending up to $120 million annually on automotive research and development at our operations here in Australia.”

Vivian said Holden was targeting “the best of the best” of Australia’s established and graduate engineers to join the team.

“We want to harness the best young engineering minds in the country. This is an incredible opportunity to work on GM’s global products and to be at the forefront of industry innovation. We’re looking for forward-thinking people with a passion for creating revolutionary solutions; people who can work collaboratively and have strong communication skills. Automotive engineering experience is desired but not a pre-requisite.”

GM Holden Chairman and Managing Director Dave Buttner said GM’s strong commitment to Holden was providing Australian motorists with benefits today, and well into the future:

“Before any vehicle can earn the right to be a Holden, our engineers clock up 4000 hours and 200,000 kilometres in Australian conditions, testing everything from the suspension to radio performance and recognizing Australian road signs,” Buttner said.

“This means that anyone who buys a Holden can have the utmost confidence that their vehicle can take anything Australian roads can dish out. Holden’s current range of vehicles is the best we’ve ever had, in large part because our local engineers’ fingerprints are all over them.”

At the same time, Holden’s engineers will be working on global teams to develop the technology that will revolutionize the way we move, said Buttner.

“Today’s AVD announcement is the latest investment which strengthens Holden’s future. Australia is one of the key sites outside of North America for Maven businesses, including car sharing, and we will be offering industry-leading connectivity with the rollout of OnStar beginning in Australia from next year.

“We are also establishing GM Financial here in Australia – so what we offer Holden customers continues to broaden as our industry and consumer expectations change. This is an exciting time for Holden and our customers.”

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