Australia is in the midst of a local-manufacturing boom, with engineering house Walkinshaw now bigger and employing more people than Holden-backed HSV was at its peak.
Take it as further evidence that Holden (and, by extension, HSV) weren’t producing the kinds of cars Australians now want to buy, with utes and full-size pick-up trucks from Toyota (the Tundra), Volkswagen (the Amarok), Mitsubishi (the Triton Xtreme) Chevrolet (the Silverado) and RAM (the 1500) now filling the production lines once dominated by the Commodore.
It’s a similar story at Premcar’s Epping facility, where engineers are producing the Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior, the Navara SL Warrior and – hopefully soon – the Nissan Patrol Warrior.
Walkinshaw – which had been a Holden and HSV partner since 1998 – is now home to more than 1000 employees in its Clayton facility working across its various product lines. CarsGuide understands that, at its peak, HSV was home to around 500 employees.
Its production lines cross a number of brands and models, from converting US-import pick-up trucks from left- to right-hand drive, to producing local editions of existing utes, like the VW Amarok W Series.
In terms of outright sales, HSV reported a record year in Australia in 2017, with the performance sub-brand delivering around 4000 new vehicles around the country. In 2021, RAM along delivered more than 4000 vehicles, without even counting the outfit’s other brands and models.
And the announcements just keep coming for Walkinshaw, with the brand to work with Mitsubishi on a new off-road halo version of the Triton called the XTreme, as well as with auto giant Toyota on a new development program for the new Tundra.
It will mean that engineering house handles the conversion – or remanufacturing – of the Chevrolet Silverado, the RAM 1500 and the Toyota Tundra. Powering the Australian-spec Tundra will be a 3.5-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 with hybrid, which should makes 286kW and 650Nm, which will out-punch the petrol V8s offered in the Silverado and 1500.
“This a dedicated re-engineering program, led by Toyota Australia and made possible by our global partners and is closely supported by our parent company and Toyota North America. It will utilise OE levels of design, development, testing and componentry rooted in Toyota’s deep commitment to quality, durability and reliability,” says Toyota Australia Vice President Sales, Marketing and Franchise Operations Sean Hanley.
“This project shows just how serious we are at Toyota about quality, and a RHD Tundra will not be available for sale in Australia, until we are totally satisfied.
“We are really excited to get such a significant project to this stage, and look forward to seeing development prototypes on our roads and test tracks in the weeks and months ahead.”
It means local manufacturing is far from dead in Australia. In fact, it’s booming, admittedly in a smaller and evolved fashion from when Holden and Ford were at their peak.
And that’s something that is definitely worth celebrating.