ZB Commodore gone in 2024, Holden high-up signals

Holden NZ will hope the next-gen ZB Commodore, on sale in March, will be here for a good time – but, by model standards, it is unlikely to be here for as long a time as its forebears.

THOUGHT first aired by MotoringNZ last November about the incoming Commodore being destined to have a modest life span has been confirmed.

Media attending the Australian reveal of the ZB generation car, which comes from Opel – now in Peugeot ownership – have been told by a Holden high-up that the model is scheduled to run for six years.

That’s nearly half the lifespan of the preceding VE/VF generation and three years shy of the nine years enjoyed by the VT-VZ and VN-VS released in 1997 and 1988 respectively, respected website GoAuto has reported.

On the bright side, it’s two more years’ grace than Peugeot parent PSA had signalled in November, back when the subject was first aired internationally – then raised with Holden New Zealand boss, Kristian Aquilina.

At that point, it seemed possible that PSA intended to massively re-engineer the large liftback and wagon models, which sell as Vauxhall and Opel Insignias in the UK and Europe, by 2022.

The idea was to progressively alter the model, first by swapping out the current GM-developed engines for Peugeot-Citroen powerplants and then, ultimately, taking off the current (also GM-developed) platform for one of their own.

That prospect still seems on the table, but the car now seems set to be available as a Holden until some time in 2024, according to comment that was given to Aussie media attending the ZB’s official unveiling in Melbourne.
Holden chairman and managing director, Mark Bernhard, asserted that the Commodore timeline is in line with the original agreement reached with Opel before PSA took over the German marque from General Motors last year.

“The new Commodore will follow the typical lifecycle of a vehicle, so that will be from launch through to the next six years or so,” the GoAuto website says it was told.

“There are no limitations at all… and absolutely no change. It is as it was before the agreement with PSA.”

Holden’s boss has added that it is too early to think about what a post-Opel successor to the Commodore might be.

Mr Bernhard also told Australian media that Opel as a standalone brand under PSA is most likely contractually barred from re-entering the Australian market until its supply agreement with Holden for Commodore and Astra hatch/wagon ends in six years. Presumably, that caveat also applies to New Zealand, the second-largest market for the car.

Holden Australia has already admitted that it doesn’t expect the ZB to sell as well as the Australian-built version that disappeared late last year.

Specialist media has conjectured, too, about how if Holden was to continue with this kind of car after ZB – and it might not, given the huge swing away from orthodox passenger cars and toward SUVs – then it would have to either adapt a North American or South Korean design.

The Opel-based car is also sold in North America as a Buick, so any replacement for that car could point the way forward for the Commodore franchise.

Meantime, the ZB will land with a five-star rating from ANCAP. The five-star rating applies to all Commodore variants – that’s the Liftback, the Wagon and the Tourer (an elevated wagon with all-wheel-drive).

The score was not from a crash test conducted in Australia but instead results from findings collated by ANCAP’s sister organisation, European NCAP. It tested a left-hand-drive Insignia with a diesel engine.

ANCAP transposed that data for the Commodore.

According to ANCAP, the Holden scored 93 percent for Adult Occupant Protection; 85 percent for Child Occupant Protection; 78 percent for Pedestrian Protection and 77 percent for Safety Assist.