31st October 2008

Holden takes its foot off the accelerator

posted in Car News Articles |

Holden has taken the unusual step of cutting the power of its Commodore to reduce the car’s fuel consumption.

The car drops 5kW in power from 180kW to 175kW, while torque drops from 330Nm to 325Nm. The power sacrifice sees fuel consumption drop from 10.9 litres per 100km to 10.6L/100km.

That means the Commodore is now giving away 20kW of power to the Falcon – and is still thirstier (the Falcon uses 10.5L/100km).

For a company that has always prided – and marketed – itself on performance, it’s a brave move.

The Commodore already trails the Falcon and the 200kW Toyota Aurion in straight line performance and this move widens the gap.

But the latest move has to be seen in the wider context of Holden’s strategy to get incremental improvements in fuel economy right across its range.

It recently improved the economy of its V8 Commodore engines by introducing a “displacement on demand” system that shuts down four cylinders during cruising. The system is said to save up to 1 litre per 100km in normal driving.

And it has made even more significant gains with its LPG engine for Commodore. Fuel consumption is down from 15.5L/100km to 14.2L/100km, while power stays at 175kW.

That will have Ford executives sweating, because LPG is a huge part of Falcon’s sales mix.

The LPG Commodore now has almost 20kW more power but is more efficient than the LPG Falcon, which uses 14.9L/100km.

Combined with a recent price cut for LPG Commodores, the move makes plenty of sense in the dollar-sensitive LPG market.

What do you think? Is this a clever marketing move and a worthwhile environmental initiative or is it too little too late?

Is it worth sacrificing power to create an impression of greater sensitivity to the environment?

And finally, is it likely to change anyone’s mind if they are thinking about downsizing?

Richard Blackburn

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