Holden Celebrates its 1 Million Engine
May 18, 2014
HOLDEN has celebrated the local production of its 1 millionth new-generation V6 just one day after it announced its worst ever financial loss of $553.8 million and about two years before its engine factory closes.
It brings the total number of engines made at the Port Melbourne facility to more than 10 million since the factory opened in 1948, the year of the first ever Holden car.
The milestone comes as Holden prepares to close the Port Melbourne engine plant some time in 2016, about one year before the car assembly line in Elizabeth closes.
Holden’s Port Melbourne engine factory shutdown will put 235 workers out of a job ahead of the 1700 assembly line workers in South Australia.
Holden currently exports two-thirds of the V6 engines its makes locally, but exports have declined sharply in recent years.
Holden-built V6 engines are made in 34 different configurations but are primarily used in the Captiva SUV which is made in South Korea, a Buick made in China and an Opel sedan made in Germany.
However, compounding the engine factory’s woes, in addition to the decline in large-car sales in Australia, is the fact that V6 engines are being replaced overseas by super-efficient, high-output four-cylinder engines.
Last year Holden assembled just 75,699 of its so-called “high-feature” V6 engines, of which 46,974 were exported.
At its peak in 1994, Holden built 280,000 engines. The current output has fallen to less than one-third of that.
In addition to building the engine for the first ever Holden car in 1948, the Port Melbourne factory also built the first Australian V8, for the Kingswood sedan and Monaro coupe, from 1969.
But the iconic Holden V8 was eventually replaced by an imported Chevrolet V8 in 1999.
Holden built more than 4.7 million four-cylinder engines in Port Melbourne between 1981 and 2009. The four-cylinder line was closed because it was cheaper to make the same or similar engines in other countries.
After briefly sourcing a Nissan six-cylinder for the Commodore in the mid-1980s, Holden began making its own V6 (albeit shared with a Buick design) between 1989 and 2003.
Holden switched to the new generation “high feature” V6 in late 2003. The 1 millionth example of this engine will be kept at Holden’s head office.
Holden Engine Operations Plant Manager, Martin Merry, said in a media statement: “Our mission is to build the ‘World Best Engines’ and we believe we do. These world-class engines also power vehicles in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, including the Chevrolet Alpheon, Buick GL8 and the Opel Antara.”
Holden’s engine plant has in many regards been more successful than the car assembly line.
The engine factory has produced more than 10 million engines, whereas Holden has only made 7 million cars locally.
Holden passed the 7 million cars milestone in August 2008, but it is unlikely to eclipse 8 million mark before the Elizabeth factory closes in 2017.