Alternative Fuels Australia

Archive for the ‘Holden’ Category

Holden backs diesel as an alternative fuel

Posted by Car Geek on October 21, 2007

Holden Astra CDTi. Image from http://flickr.com/photos/mybarina/1152714133/, licenced under CC 2.0. Despite showing off an ethanol-powered Commodore station wagon at this year’s Sydney motor show, Holden has come out and stated that diesel is, in their opinion, the best fuel for Australia’s immediate driving needs.

Director of innovation at Holden, Richard Marshall, supported the use of alternative fuels but backed diesel as the best solution right now.

“We think drivers will begin to understand and choose the alternative powertrain solution that suits their transport needs,” he said. “Where drivers spend most of their time in heavily-congested traffic, petrol hybrids may offer the appropriate level of performance with low fuel consumption.

“For people whose driving habits typically include a mix of inner city, suburban and country driving, diesel vehicles may be more likely to deliver powerful performance and better fuel economy.”

Holden currently imports some diesel models, such as the Astra, but has no plans to build either a diesel or a hybrid vehicle in Australia in the near future. A hybrid Commodore would be “priced too high” without government incentives, according to Marshall, while a diesel version could cost more than $50 million to develop. No word was mentioned of Holden’s plans for biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

(Source: Adelaide Now)

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Posted in Diesel, Holden | Leave a Comment »

Holden VE Sportwagon gets green credentials

Posted by Car Geek on October 13, 2007

Holden VE Sportswagon. Image from carsguide.com.au. Well, props to Holden for keeping this quiet…maybe I’ll keep my mouth shut next time. 😉

Holden has showcased a special variant of their VE Commodore station wagon at the Australian International Motor Show this year, with a new engine management system designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The Sportswagon concept, which may enter production next year, is based strongly on the current VE Commodore model, with the Show concept housing two interesting developments.

The first is a cylinder deactivation system, which can turn off four of the cylinders in the Sportswagon’s V8 engine under low power conditions such as cruising or idling, essentially reducing the vehicle’s fuel consumption at those times to that of a four-cylinder car. The technology is not especially new, with Holden’s parent company General Motors having worked on the technology for over twenty-five years, but it is rarely seen in Australian cars.

The second is a little more interesting, and takes its lead from sister company Saab: a fuel system that is optimised for use with ethanol-enhanced fuel, particularly E85. Unfortunately E85 is nearly impossible to find in Australia currently due to a lack of government support for it, but the vehicle can also run on E10 and pure unleaded petrol, albeit at a slight loss of performance.

The introduction of an Australian-made vehicle that is optimised for use with E85 fuel will hopefully put some pressure on governments and suppliers to provide E85 for public use. The age of the “thirsty Commodore” isn’t quite over yet, especially when it’s still using a thumping great V8 engine, but it’s a start. Who knows, one day Holden might even produce that foot-powered Commodore some stone-age journalists seem to think we’re after…

(Sources: carsguide.com.au, Daily Telegraph)

Posted in Ethanol, Holden | 1 Comment »

Will Australia import more efficient technology?

Posted by Car Geek on September 1, 2007

While pressure mounts considerably for auto companies in the US to clean up their act, and an impressive range of new technologies make their way on to the market to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, there is still some question about whether or not these innovations will find their way into Australian cars.

General Motors, the US owner of Holden, has recently announced a wide range of fuel-saving innovations to their vehicles, ranging from hybrid powertrains to diesels, direct injection engines and cylinder deactivation. Some models released under the Holden badge in Australia even have hybrid counterparts in the United States, such as the Saturn Vue (known as the Captiva MaXX here). However, despite a recent shift in focus within Holden towards being part of the global GM group rather than considering itself a separate entity, the Melbourne-based car manufacturer has made no suggestions one way or another about importing some of GM’s technology for use in its Australian-made or imported vehicles. Spokesman John Lindsay admitted to the existence of “some (VE Commodore) mules running around with hybrid systems in them”, but said that there are no plans to bring a hybrid Commodore to production at this stage. Similarly there seems to be no move to use more conventional engine technology such as direct injection in their Australian-built engines, let alone much hope for radical projects such as the Chevy Volt to make their way to our shores. Paradoxically, Holden exports a version of the Commodore Omega that is capable of using a 24% ethanol blend to Brazil (under the Chevrolet brand), but will not endorse the use of ethanol concentrations above 10% for its Australian vehicles.

The situation seems paralleled at Ford, with the US branch currently looking into longer-term solutions such as hydrogen-hybrid Focus and HySeries experimental vehicles, as well as an existing range of ethanol-capable and hybrid vehicles and powertrain developments such as continuously variable transmission.  Ford Motor Company Australia recently made the tough decision to close its production of the “Barra” engine at Geelong in favour of importing the more efficient Duratec engine from Detroit, which is a significant move for the industry, however the company has made it clear that the likelihood of seeing a Ford-badged hybrid on Australian roads in the near future is remote.

With the Australian market too small to cost-effectively innovate on a large scale, the auto industry’s best hope is to exploit its global partnerships and import technology to help reduce fuel consumption and emissions from Australian vehicles, but it’s likely that the cultural shift required for the industry to embrace such globalisation may take some time.

(Source: Drive, Carsguide)

Posted in alternative fuels, Ethanol, Ford, Holden, Hybrid, Hydrogen | 2 Comments »