Holden Takes On Global Design Role
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GM Holden Design Director Tony Stolfo
8th December, 2005
GM Holden will significantly expand its Port Melbourne design centre to design vehicles for General Motors markets around the world.
The Port Melbourne design operations will be GM’s third largest design centre behind its Detroit (USA) and Russelsheim (Germany) centres.
Local staff will increase from 107 to 176, cementing GM Holden’s place as the largest automotive design centre in Australia.
The decision means GM Holden will assume key global roles in the design and engineering of General Motors cars outside the Australian market.
General Motors Vice-President Global Design, Ed Welburn, today announced the expansion in Melbourne during a visit with GM Holden Design Director Tony Stolfo.
MrWelburn said GM Holden would take on design programmes for other GM brands in recognition of Australia’s maturity and achievements as a design centre.“This decision means the coming of age for GM Holden Design, its place in the GM design world and, frankly, the world of design in general,” Mr Welburn said.
“As the world’s largest automotive company, it is natural that GM would harness the abilities and vision of its designers around the world to expand and develop its vehicle portfolio.
“GM’s vision is a team of hundreds of the world’s best designers who push themselves, and each other, to make each new design better than the one before.
“GM Holden has earned its place at the table through delivering internationally successful production cars as well as breathtaking concept cars over the past few years.
“Our Australian operations are making their presence felt around the world, with GM Holden designers currently based in the United States, Europe, Korea and China." “GM Holden has been a high output design house for many years and we’re about to make it something much bigger."
“Today’s announcement rewards the value of this design staff to GM and their ability to create stunning vehicles.”
Mr Welburn said GM Holden offered strategic benefits for GM because it combined with other key centres in the United States and Europe to deliver around-the-clock design potential.
GM Holden has already started its largest design recruitment programme in company history, scouring the world’s automotive ranks for 70 extra talented designers.Mr Stolfo said GM Holden would seek to recruit technical experts in each of seven key disciplines - technical design, colour and trim, creative design, digital sculpting, modelling and fabrication, design quality and visualisation.
He said almost 400 applicants from around the world had responded to preliminary calls for expressions of interest to GM Holden, initiated to determine the depth of available talent for such a large-scale design staff hiring process.
“This takes GM Holden Design to a new level. We’re no longer just a GM Holden design team, we’re part of a global design team,” Mr Stolfo said.
“It’s just amazing to think about what that says about this country’s creativity. From today, it says we can create cars for just about anyone, anywhere.
“We’ve certainly done some non-Holden design before now, but it’s always been ad hoc. From today, that capability becomes part of GM Design’s DNA.
“It means that we can potentially apply our skills to any GM brand in the world.
“It means a future performance vehicle for North America or a hatchback for Asia-Pacific could be partly or wholly designed right here in Port Melbourne.”
Mr Stolfo said GM Holden enjoyed strong links with Australian design educational institutions and hoped to be able to hire strong local talent in the process. He said hiring completion was expected in the first quarter of 2006, depending on availability of candidates.
“We’ve worked hard to build the educational infrastructure to develop tomorrow’s stars. As an example, we are heavily involved in the development of the Automotive Design Curriculum at Monash University,” Mr Stolfo said.
“This is a great opportunity for us and we want to make sure we can tap into Australian talent as much as possible. At the same time, we would also love to bring in ideas from overseas to create variation in the way our designers think about and view cars.”
GM Holden Design has built a reputation as Australia’s premier design operation through popular production cars such as the Commodore, which has been the country’s best selling car each year since 1997.
GM Holden concept vehicles prepared for Australian automotive shows have become the stuff of legend. They include this year’sshow-stopping EFIJY concept, last year’s Torana TT36 concept, Cross8 four-door Ute concept which became the Crewman and the Commodore Coupe which wowed Australia at the 1998 Sydney Motor Show and became the re-introduced Monaro in 2001.
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