Holden Designs Find a Worldwide Market

Australian-built Holden cars may be disappearing from the nation’s new car dealerships with the end of production in 2017, but cars designed by Holden’s Australian design team will be finding a global market well beyond that date.

Holden’s design centre in Port Melbourne has been designing Holdens since the 1967 HR first hit Australia’s roads. Before then Holdens were designed in the US. The Port Melbourne studio is one of 10 GM design studios around the world.

It houses 140 designers and offers quite a bit more than the ability to just sketch out designs. In fact General Motors boasts that it’s one of just two design studios worldwide that can transform a concept from a sketch into a fully functioning car.

Holden-designed cars are finding homes throughout the world. They include the 2015 Buick Avenir, now on sale in America and the Chevrolet Niva, due for release in Russia this year as a joint venture between GM and AvtoVAZ.

Holden Design Studio

All-electric Chevrolet Bolt

One particularly innovative design that Holden had a big hand in is the Chevrolet Bolt, GM’s all electric competitor to the upcoming Tesla 3. With a range of over 320km and a price tag around the $US30,000 mark it will be interesting to see how the market responds. The Bolt’s long wheelbase accommodating a low, flat battery creates an interior with outstanding space and legroom. Australia might have played a major role in its design, but we won’t be seeing it on Australian roads in the foreseeable future. That’s the global car market for you!

The Port Melbourne design studio is a busy place, with the team working on as many as three production cars and a concept car at any time, according to design director Richard Ferlazzo.

Its history of creating concept cars stretches back to 1969 and the Holden Hurricane sports car that set hearts aflutter when it went on show around Australia.


More recently it created the Holden EFIJY, a stunning 21st Century tribute to a 1950s FJ Holden that had die-hard Holden lovers salivating for it. Cool? It’s completely off the scale! Even Vladimir Putin’s brother was reported as having been keen to get his hands on it. It won the United States Concept Car Of The Year award in 2007, but sadly, it won’t be coming to your nearest Holden dealer anytime soon.

“Invariably, people smile when they see it for the first time,” Ferlazzo said.

“EFIJY is our accolade to the talented designers who cut loose with some fantastically flamboyant styling in the post-war 1940s and 1950s.”

With that sort of creative flair behind them it’s a fair bet that Holden-designed cars will be common sight on the world’s roads for many years to come. The Port Melbourne design centre itself will likely have a strong advocate in Michael Simcoe, an Australian who’s recently been appointed as GM’s global design chief, the first non-American to hold the position.

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