By on December 11, 2010

GM’s troubled Australian division Holden has maintained its place in the GM empire for years now as the development center for GM’s global rear-drive architecture. The Holden-developed Zeta platform began as the basis for Holden’s Commodore full-size sedan, and has been put into use on a global basis by cars as diverse as the Chevy Camaro, the Chinese-market Buick Park Avenue and the Pontiac G8. But now GoAuto reports that the next-gen Commodore could be moved to Holden’s plus-sized version of the Epsilon II midsized front-drive chassis known as “Super Epsilon II,” the platform that will underpin the next Chevy Impala and the Cadillac XTS. The era of the Aussie RWD sedan may well be coming to a close…

With Ford’s Falcon likely moving to a front-drive chassis, GM is looking at making the Commodore lighter and more efficient, and moving the car to an FWD platform could be the only way of making those changes on a cost-effective basis. Holden’s bosses say the decision will be made in the next “two to three months.” Luckily this does not mean the end of rear-drive GM cars though. A four-door Chevy Zeta sedan is coming to the US, and the forthcoming Cadillac ATS is reportedly based on a new “Alpha” RWD platform that reportedly uses components from Zeta and the Kappa (Solstice/Sky) platform. If Holden doesn’t develop a new Zeta iteration for the next Commodore, GM’s RWD options could be limited to the new 3 Series-sized Alpha platform.

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44 Comments on “Holden Commodore Could Go FWD...”


  • avatar
    ALB-MAN

    The further pussification of GM’s only desirable car brand.

  • avatar

    This is hardly the end of the world. Lexus offers 3 RWD platforms, BMW and Merc have a few each too. And Chrysler offers one. Seems like a full spectrum of price and performance options.
    P.S. Forgot about ponies: Camaro/Mustang/Challenger. They continue to exist as well.
    P.P.S. Mazda MX-5 and upcoming replacement for RX-8.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    FWD no doubt uses less metal, easier to piggy back a diff into the trans, saves the long shaft.
    Mounting hardware. Who cares if the car goes side ways as long as saving money or bottom line.
    As they can break thru the large power able going to the front axle.
    FWD does have a better inherent handling on lower speed, it can be tricky when it reaches the limit, many of us wont have that too worry or u need to pre-pray the sundays, as it happen so fast your derriere cannot be saved.
    RWD do lose traction much sooner, especially rear end lighter cars.
     

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Strewth , next thing you’ll be suggesting a front-drive Ute.

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    Does that platform in the picture have two fuel tanks?

  • avatar

    What a stupid idea the whole world expects its Chevvys in V8/V6 RWD from oz how will GM sell fwd large cars and utes in Aus/NZ. The Commodore is a best seller so why wreck it.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    GM must not think very far ahead. The Commodore going front wheel drive will kill the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV).

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      GM must not think very far ahead.
       
      No, they don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      NotFast

      After watching the cop Crown Vic’s around me going sideways after a decent snowfall, methinks the police would welcome a FWD platform.

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      Cops hate FWD, and so do the garages that maintain the cars.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Does anyone know the inherent weakness that makes FWD so much more fragile than RWD in heavy-duty applications? This is just a guess, but I would think it’s the fact that the driveshafts (CV joints) of a FWD are subjected to much more stress than the relatively isolated single driveshaft driving the rear wheels of an RWD vehicle.

      Likewise, I can see the same problem applying to IRS-equipped cop cars instead of the ancient (but much stouter) LRA.

      Looked at another way, the best cop-cars are those which retain tractor-like construction properties. I haven’t checked, but I’m guessing there are very few FWD and/or IRS equipped farm tractors.

      If this is correct, I don’t see how it would be possible to engineer the problem out. IOW, the very things that makes FWD more efficient than RWD, also makes it weaker in heavy-duty applications.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      The Charger has IRS and it’s popular so its not the 2 axle shafts. I think its difficultly perfroming PIT manuvers and just old FWD misconceptions that keep them from becoming popular.

  • avatar
    craiger

    GM can screw up a bag of potato chips.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    It’s GM, so I don’t really care for the car itself, but I think it’s sad that one of the few right wheel drive sedans is going to disappear. I still can’t understand why people believe you can make large heavy cars based on the original ‘Mini’ design. And I’m not just an ‘fanboy’. I can enjoy a fwd car, they can be real fun, even if you can’t sideways, and they can go really fast on small narrow roads, as long as you keep the car under 4 meters long and 1000 kg’s. In a midsize or larger sedan the torque steer gets really annoying, the lacking option to ‘jump’ onto a road from a T-crossing is annoying too. As is the fact that you have no steering while accelerating. And did I mention that all this gets a lot worse once you put a really powerful engine into it. The limit to comfort in a FWD is probably less than 150 hp, unless you like the ‘sporty’ feeling of having the steering wheels ripped out of your hands.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      ” The limit to comfort in a FWD is probably less than 150 hp, unless you like the ‘sporty’ feeling of having the steering wheels ripped out of your hands.”
      It sounds like you haven’t driven any modern FWD sedans. Torque steer has been tamed for several generations now.
       

    • 0 avatar

      It varies greatly. The current Mitsu Eclipse is awful, for example. Also, the way scrub radius works is extremely tricky. We probably need to talk to Jack to get the full skinny on the ways racers balance the offsets and tire types to make the corner exits acceptable. In most road cars, I gather, manufacturers simply sacrifice handling by placing the contact patch’s center right under the steering rotation axis continuation and hoping for the best.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I admit I have not driven many modern cars with fwd, only some late 90’s and early 21st century cars, several of which were far from having over 150 hp, but which are all big selling mid-size cars in Europe, and they have not tamed it completely, allthough modern powersteering and better suspension geometrics have lessened the problem to a such extent that you hardly notice it while driving ‘normally’ (as in slow, or with no sharp turns). I can understand why all the ‘luxury’ car brands use rwd. Also I don’t understand why RWD would mean any increase in build or development cost if you make more than one car with rwd, as it is now with RWD being quite rare it may cost more, but a late 80’s rwd car in good condition still drives better than any fwd car. (with the slight exeption of a few Honda and Citroen models, but they have (almost) never built anything but fwd cars)

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      John, torque steer is still a problem in modern high horsepower FWD sedans.
       
      http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/car/04q1/acura_tl-road_test
       
      “The limited slip does its job distributing power to the front tire with more grip, but with 238 pound-feet of torque on tap, there’s no masking that the torque plays an unwanted role in the steering, especially now, with the direct connection via the six-speed gearbox. If anything, the limited slip exacerbates the existing torque steer, pulling on the wheel as if each pound-foot were a G.I. Joe action figure in a tug of war. On the plus side, as long as you’re conscious of this trait, accelerating out of turns is surprisingly fast, although a bit nerve-racking. A jaunt in a TL with an automatic revealed far less torque steer, thanks to the torque converter that smoothes out the power relay and the lack of a tugging limited-slip.”

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i wonder if this is some kind of scare tactic
     
    both Ford and Holden run this story every so often and they know it will alienate buyers who are very conservative and want RWD is no more than to support the local V8 supercar series

  • avatar
    willbodine

    This doesn’t make sense. What about future iterations of CTS and Camaro?  (and Commodore?)
    If they truly wish to go head to head against Toyota, Ford and the Germans, I don’t see how they can let this segment (mid-large RWD) disappear.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Well… according to the story this won’t ‘t kill the “Chevy G8″ so it’s all good with me.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I wonder if the local Holden crowd will buy into it? In the land of Oz once you leave suburbia its unpaved mate. Ruggedness is what counts. I mean can you see Crocodile Dundee p-ssing around in a FWD?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      http://bestsellingcars.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/australia-october-2010-commodore-over-5/#more-218

      There are Australia’s best selling cars. With the exception of the Commodore and Falcon, they’re as FWD as best selling cars are everywhere in the world. The real problem is that the best selling car in Australia sells 3,800 units a month. That volume doesn’t justify unique taillights in the US, let alone a bespoke platform.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      Australia is one of the most heavily urbanized countries in the world. Croc Dundee and the like are a tiny proportion of new car buyers.

      Having said that my daily drive to work does included a few km of gravel road which I enjoy very much.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!1!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    NotFast

    I’m not in the auto industry, but it seems to me that GM could divide their chassis designs globally: RWD in Australia, AWD in North America and FWD in Europe.  Each area could focus on their platform and produce a “best of breed” for reduce costs.  With the ability to send engineering diagrams across the world in (literally) minutes, why can’t this be done?

  • avatar
    snafu

    The plot thickens …

    Those at GM will need to see a podiatrist after stepping on their own toes.
    … what we refer to as “Stupid Epsilon II” or “Stupid Epsilon Also”

    NAOmg! 

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Much ado about nothing.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO NO, a thousand times no.
     
    GM has one of the best RWD platforms on the planet in the under $30K US category and they are going to just throw it away.
     
    I like Epsilon II but in a world where if the interiors were identical, who would pick an Epsilon II base GM car over a Zeta based GM car.  Ugh.

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      GM has one of the best RWD platforms on the planet in the under $30K US category and they are going to just throw it away.

      Just another day at GM. It looks like they’ll continue development for the Camaro and cop car though.

  • avatar
    carguy

    While some would say this will kill the Commodore, in many ways it’s already doomed – FWD or RWD. Australians, who mainly live in urban areas (contrary to what you may think), have been embracing other forms of transportation and the market share of the Falcon and Commodore has been falling. Combine that with the fact that Oz is small left hand drive market and the economies of scale of having a dedicated vehicle for this marker simply don’t add up. Australia will either need to become a car exporting country or they will have to adopt global platforms to stay competitive.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Holden is already a massively net export country.  The only continent a civilian cannot buy a GM 4-door Zeta platform car is North America.  Heck, even the very urbanized United Kingdom, with extremely high fuel prices, massive traffic, speed and red light cameras, and tough laws get the fire breathing supercharged version of the GTS Commodore for sale.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Rear wheel drive cars are a niche product these days. Deal with it.
     

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Well, just one more reason for me to not buy modern cars…

  • avatar
    Sam P

    This is hardly the death of RWD.
     
    Even freakin’ Hyundai will sell a brand new RWD Genesis Coupe for well under $30k.
     
    And it’s not like GM is going to kill the Camaro (which is a sales success) because of this event.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The only GM car I would consider buying is a civilian version of the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle. I was close to buying a Pontiac G8 but backed off over concern for parts and service.

  • avatar
    Ooshley

    ‘…cars as diverse as the Chevy Camaro, the Chinese-market Buick Park Avenue and the Pontiac G8.’
    Diverse! This is surely sarcasm? The Camaro is the only one there that isn’t essentially a re-badge.

  • avatar

    GM’s wrong again… It seems that I won’t buy newer GM cars soon…


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