More from Down Under: Holden to play a larger role in GM's future product plans JASON STEIN | Automotive News Posted Date: 12/2/04 DETROIT -- Holden Ltd., the force behind the reintroduction of the Pontiac GTO, will play a large role in General Motors' future product plans. GM has assigned its Australian subsidiary the design and engineering for a new generation of rear-wheel-drive cars on the Zeta architecture. Some, including a Buick sedan and the redesigned GTO, will be assembled in the United States. The Buick will be first in 2006. "Holden will take the lead for a lot of work, including most of the core engineering work," says Marty Hogan, program engineering manager for the current GTO. "The U.S. will still be responsible for regional needs and for meeting U.S. requirements, but Holden is serving a large need. "Because Holden has worked on the architecture before Zeta," Hogan says, it "will continue to integrate it." Holden's lean, profitable operation has become a role model for GM's global engineering, computer and design network. In America, Holden helped rework the right-hand-drive Monaro into the 2004 GTO. Hogan says 35 Holden engineers worked on the GTO, including 15 who oversaw the program from the GM Technical Center in Warren, Mich. But "ultimately, it's Holden's own architecture," Hogan says. "We're picking up work they've done and trying to apply their applications to the core engineering." This year, GM CEO Rick Wagoner reaffirmed Holden's importance. "Holden continues to play a critical role, both as a key local player and as a source of engineering and design expertise, with special focus on its large, rear-drive car capabilities," Wagoner told journalists in September at GM's global seminar in France. Holden's expertise is crucial to American development. Says Hogan: "There are not too many questions asked on this side that they don't have an answer for over there."