Holden Planned A Secret SUV That May Have Saved The Company


Too bad GM didn't let Holden build it.

Last week we got the sad news that the last Holden ever built had rolled off the factory floor at GM's Adelaide plant in Australia. The whole of the Australian motoring industry has been shut down, so now the only remaining Holden models will be lackluster, rebadged Chevy models. It seems like Holden never stood a chance to survive because it didn't have models or platforms that could be sold globally. The Zeta platform, which underpinned the Commodore and several other cars, never lived up to its full potential to act as a global GM platform.

The fifth generation Camaro ended up being the only Zeta Platform car to be sold globally. The US did get the occasional Pontiac G8, Chevy SS and PPV police car, but these never helped the Zeta platform sell extremely well. This led to the ultimate demise of the Holden brand, but insiders at the company believe that the brand could have survived if it had built an SUV. Motoring reports that Holden planned to build a RWD-based SUV on the Zeta platform. This SUV would have competed locally with the RWD-based Ford Territory SUV and could have helped Holden compete on a global scale. We know that everyone is going crazy for SUVs right now, so it makes perfect sense.

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GM told Holden that it would build the SUV, but never fulfilled this promise. Former Holden insiders believe that if they had been allowed to continue development on the SUV that it could have sustained local manufacturing in Australia. The SUV was a part of the "Global Zeta Plan," which would have used the Zeta platform across GM brands all the way up to Cadillac. The Zeta platform could have been the perfect size for a Cadillac flagship or even an SUV to fit under the Escalade. Holden used to build an SUV called the Adventra that was based on the Commodore platform, but this was more of an Audi Allroad style wagon than a full-on SUV.

The design for the Zeta SUV was supposed to be drawn by Czech-born Holden designer, Ondrej Koromhaz. The SUV would have had its own unique sheet-metal with rear and all-wheel-drive capabilities. “There was an SUV and that was probably one of the defining moments around global Zeta and it was probably one of the defining moments around Holden’s success in Australia,” former Holden advanced vehicle design chief Mark Sheridan told Motoring. Sheridan explained that “Ford made a really good decision around Territory" and that "We looked at cars exactly like that way back on Zeta and the GM leadership at the time said no."

Sheridan says that at Holden's height, he had a chart which showed 15 derivatives of the Zeta platform for the global market. It is sad to think that something could have been done to save Holden and its badass V8-powered models, but it seems like GM just didn't want to put in the effort to save it. Photo credit: Wheelsmag

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