Australian automaker Holden (
partially owned by GM) and Australian national research center CSIRO are working together to build "next generation" hybrid automobile technologies, according to a CSIRO press release. The research will focus on "supercapacitors, advanced batteries and energy management control systems." Collaboration between Holden and CSIRO has already led to the "ECOmmodore" hybrid sedan... four years ago. Which, upon roll-out in 2000, listed many of the same technological features. Which you can't buy, but which still gets trotted out as an example of how green they're trying to be, despite (according to their Vehicle R&D page) "investing in more environmentally friendly technologies for which there is little market demand or economic incentive."
So why are Holden and CSIRO now trumpeting research they've been doing for years? They can read the writing on the wall. Oil prices keep going up, demand for more fuel-efficient cars is steadily rising, and hybrids are sexy. American manufacturers have been slow to get new hybrids to market, and Holden may be in a position to be able to step up as a hybrid car leader (or, at minimum, provide their established technology to their
partner parent, GM). To me, this is a sign that the auto industry may well be set for a bigger shakeup than anyone expected.
Actually, Holden is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GM, much like Opel, Vauxhall, &c., and has been since 1931. Many Holden cars are rebadged versions of GM cars sold elsewhere in the world (i.e., the Astra).
There are also numerous Australian designed vehicles that are sold elsewhere under other GM badges, for example the Holden GTO (monaro hsv) is marketed as the Pontiac GTO in the US. It will be interesting to see if this Holden Hybrid will actually be sold to the public, or if GM will just put the money saving designs on a shelf in the cupboard. It isn't the first time a revolutionary Australian design would be prevented from public release, look at the orbital engine for example.