GM Holden seeks 150 engineers to accelerate electric, autonomous vehicles

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GM Holden will hire 150 new engineers at its Port Melbourne plant, to fast-track the development of 20 new EVs by 2023, and an AV by 2019.

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An autonomous Bolt EV tests in San Francisco.
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The Australian arm of faded Detroit auto giant General Motors has announced a major engineering recruitment drive to back the US company’s shift to “future mobility,” including the development of electric and self-driving cars.

GM Holden said on Tuesday that it would employ 150 new engineers to work at the company’s Port Melbourne plant in Victoria, to help fast-track the “autonomous vehicles and electric powertrains of the future.”

The move follows a major reshuffle in the top ranks of the car maker, as it prepares to make the commercial launch of its autonomous vehicle next year, and “at least” 20 new all-electric models within five years.

“GM is determined to be the first company to bring safe, autonomous vehicles to market — not within years, but in quarters,” said GM vice president Mark Reuss in comments on Tuesday. “Make no mistake, we’re moving to a driverless future — a future of safer roads and zero crashes.”

Reuss said that GM was also “well on its way” to delivering at least 20 new all-electric models to market by 2023.

“The world-class vehicle engineering capability we have at Holden in Australia will play a significant role in GM delivering on its commitment to create a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” he said.

Holden said the 150 new recruits – which would take the company’s total design, engineering and vehicle development workforce in Australia to more than 500, 330 of those based at Port Melbourne – would be a mixture of both experienced and graduate engineers.

GM Holden executive director of engineering, Brett Vivian, said the creation of 150 new jobs at came on top of significant upgrades to the emissions test lab and test tracks at the company’s Lang Lang Proving Ground.

“Holden’s engineering unit has a bright future undertaking important local and global work, from ensuring imported Holden vehicles can master Australia’s unique driving conditions, to developing the technologies that will power the future of mobility globally,” Vivian said.

“With today’s announcement, we will now be spending up to $120 million annually on automotive research and development at our operations here in Australia.”

Vivian said Holden was targeting “the best of the best” of Australia’s established and graduate engineers to join the team.

“We want to harness the best young engineering minds in the country. This is an incredible opportunity to work on GM’s global products and to be at the forefront of industry innovation.

“We’re looking for forward-thinking people with a passion for creating revolutionary solutions; people who can work collaboratively and have strong communication skills. Automotive engineering experience is desired but not a pre-requisite.”

The Greens welcomed the news as a demonstration of where the next-generation vehicle industry was heading – even if Australia was a bit behind the global pace.

“Companies are investing in these technologies, the revolution is already happening around the world,” said Janet Rice, the Greens transport spokesperson.

“We have the opportunity now to get on board and benefit from this manufacturing growth industry, as well as delivering economic benefits, improving our fuel security, tackling climate change and saving lives through cleaner air,” Senator Rice said.

“Our Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles has heard compelling evidence that Australia is in prime position to be a leader in the shift to electric vehicles. We have the skills, we have the technology, we just need the government to hit the accelerator on these opportunities with the right policies and incentives to drive them forward.”

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