There's still a pulse at HSV

Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) says it will continue to produce performance cars in Australia beyond Holden’s manufacturing closure in 2017.

The big mystery moving forward surrounds what cars HSV will actually modify for local customers.

HSV managing director Phil Harding confirmed the performance arm’s intentions to continue producing modified vehicles while speaking with Fairfax Media on Wednesday, just hours after Holden revealed it would be closing manufacturing operations.

“The business at Clayton has been providing excitement in the auto industry for the last 26 years, I don’t plan to stop,” he said.

“The origin of the car isn’t necessarily the driving factor (for HSV).”

Harding was understandably coy on how HSV would operate in Australia without the locally-produced Commodore; while HSV has in the past sold imported cars (including versions of the Astra), it's modified versions of V8 Commodores that the brand is known for. 

HSV currently produces six models which are based on the architecture and underpinnings of the VF Commodore. The modifications undertaken by HSV strictly apply to performance and cosmetic enhancements.

HSV's new top-range model released earlier this year, the HSV GTS, is the fastest, most powerful car produced in Australia.

There is speculation that longer term General Motors could begin importing right-hand drive Chevrolet variants, such as the Camaro or Corvette, to appease local performance enthusiasts once the Commodore is axed. The current cars are not engineered for right-hand-drive, but GM has long talked of potentially changing that.


Given Ford's decision to engineer its Mustang for right-hand-drive - the car goes on sale in Australia in 2015 - it could provide an added incentive for GM. 

There are also suggestions that General Motors could develop more right-hand-drive muscle cars for markets such as Australia in future. The Chevrolet SS - a rebadged Holden Commodore - currently being sold in the US and being used as the brand's entrance into Nascar racing is unlikely to be a short-term marketing decision. 

Other than Chevrolet variants, the only Holdens that will be available in Australia in terms of the current line-up would be predominantly restricted to small cars and SUVs.

But Harding refused to speculate on the origins of the brand’s future line-up.

“You know that HSV doesn’t talk about the future,” he said.

“What’s the definition of a performance car in four years’ time? I’m not going to tell … I do think there’s a market for performance cars in Australia.”

HSV currently employs more than 200 people at its headquarters in Clayton, Victoria. 

Harding was reticent on whether the company’s employment levels would remain steady even after Holden closes its manufacturing plants in Adelaide and Melbourne.

“If you’re asking me to declare people’s employment opportunities for four years time, I wouldn’t have done that whatever the news today,” Harding said.

“We depend on making good quality cars that customers want, and I’m not going to stop doing that.

“HSV is a strong business and it’s got a strong history. It’s currently very strong, we make the best performance car ever made in Australia and it’s not a bad day for us in that sense.

“It’s an exciting time, we’ve got cars to make, we’ve got customer orders and we’re satisfying them.”