So, what will happen to HSV after 2017?
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Following this morning's announcement from HSV of their 2017 plans, attention turns to what the future of the Victoria-based performance vehicle group will be.
2017 marks their 30th anniversary, with each year having seen the brand take Holden's popular Commodore platform to new heights. But with production of the Australian-based Commodore winding down later this year, in preparation for the new Vauxhall Insignia derived Commodore in 2018, HSV's future is uncertain.
However, speaking to Driven, HSV's New Zealand Regional Manager Andrew Lamb is confident that the brand will hang around for years to come.
“There’s a lot of rumours and stories about our agreement with Holden. I suppose the most obvious thing I can say to counter the negativity in some of those areas is that we have just signed a 15-year release on a new facility that’s about a kilometre away from where we are in south-east Melbourne,” said Lamb.
“It’s several times the size of where we are now, it gives us the ability to have three separate production lines, and we’ve taken a 15-year lease on it. We wouldn’t do that if we’re closing up shop at the end of the year.”
Lamb confirmed that HSV has more automotive plans in store for coming years, but wouldn't delve into details.
“We’ve got some good plans and some good programmes going forward, we’re just not able to discuss them at this stage,” he said.
“We’ve got a number of products under development, which will be confirmed in due course.
“The brand pillars are design, performance, and technology. And that doesn’t change.”
The HSV brand stems from a broader framework, linking to parent company Premoso PTY LTD, which is owned by Tom Walkinshaw's widow Martine, and son Ryan.
While Premoso's fixtures are broad, including the Walkinshaw Sports golfing company, they also have a heavy emphasis on motoring.
There's the Walkinshaw Racing Supercars Championship team, as well as 50/50 joint ventures with New Age Caravans, and Neville Crichton's Ateco Automotive outfit.
Ateco Automotive and Premoso set up American Special Vehicles last year, which specialises in converting Ram trucks to right-hand drive for the Australasian market.
“That business is growing and developing nicely,” said Lamb.
“I have nothing to do with that business in NZ, and neither do my HSV colleauges in Australia. But the wider group — we do everything up to finishing the vehicle. Our design guys have worked with our engineering guys to develop the components to do a right-hand drive [conversion].
“We’ve set up a whole new production line. The body comes off, the interior comes out, the vehicle gets completely re-manufactured in right-hand drive to the same standard that it comes out at the American plant.”
Whether a connection with an American marque will be forthcoming for HSV remains to be seen, however Lamb does concede that life beyond the end of the Commodore could lead to a very different complexion for HSV.
“The company, even in two year’s time, I think will be in a very different space to where it is now. We’ve got some cool things happening, we just can’t talk about them yet as frustrating as that is,” he said.
“In a lot of ways, the closure of manufacturing in Australia takes some of the shackles away and opens things up a lot more for us. So it’s actually an opportunity, more than an end — if you like.
“If you think about it from a ‘we’re sad about it, it’s the end of the world’ kind of thing, don’t. Think about it as an opportunity to expand the company.”