Holden's Lang Lang Proving Ground to continue under new ownership
Australia’s largest automotive test facility sold to Vietnamese firm.
The Australian automotive testing facility where generations of Holden models were developed has been sold to Vietnamese automotive manufacturer VinFast.
The sale means the expansive network of test tracks and laboratories known as the Lang Lang Proving Ground will continue to play a role in advanced automotive research and development, after the withdrawal of Holden from the Australian market at the end of 2020.
Situated 90km south-east of Melbourne, Lang Lang was used to test Holden vehicles during their development, something that before its opening in 1958, was often done on public roads.
The sprawling 877ha site has been expanded several times since Holden first purchased the land in 1956, but was initially modelled on similar GM test facilities in the USA, with sections of roads designed to emulate specific Australian conditions.
The Lang Lang site consists of 44km of sealed and unsealed test roads, a 4.7km banked high-speed oval, a 5.5km ride and handling track, a skid pan, and a durability section complete with wave-like bumps, rumble strips and tram lines.
Every locally manufactured Holden, from the FC in 1958 to the last locally manufactured Commodore VF Series II in 2017 was developed at the facility, which was also used to secretly test and develop other international GM vehicles.
“The Lang Lang Proving Ground will continue to shape the global automotive industry,” said GM Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director Kristian Aquilina.
“Over the past five years, GM has invested in the laboratories and tracks at the site, which will now be well-utilised by its new owners.
“This deal hits a sweet spot of a fair sale value, a ready-made facility for VinFast’s needs, ongoing employment for departing Holden employees and the preservation of amenity for the community.
“In some ways, it’s the end of an era. We pay tribute to rich automotive history created at the Proving Ground, and the brilliant Holden people who worked there. At the same time, it’s genuinely pleasing to know there’s a bright future there as well.”
Vinfast was founded in 2017 with the aim of being Vietnam’s first volume automotive manufacturer and has designed its models with the assistance of leading European brands including BMW, Magna Steyr and Pininfarina.
Since 2019 the company has had a partnership in place to distribute Chevrolet vehicles in Vietnam and in 2018 VinFast took over a former GM factory in Hanoi, with a view to producing its own vehicles there.
The company already has a presence in Australia, having established a new R&D Centre in Melbourne earlier this year, known as VinFast Engineering Australia, and recruited a number of former GM Holden, Ford and Toyota engineers.
The Australian team is believed to be working on the company’s first electric car, which is due for sale in the USA by 2021.
Vinfast has built vehicles based on previous generation BMW 5-Series and X5 models, as well as a city car based on the compact Opel Karl. The company also produces a range of electric motorcycles.
VinFast said it was committed to the ongoing protection of the local bushland and environment at Lang Lang and intended to continue to allow access for community Landcare activities.
The company also intends to honour Holden’s heritage at the iconic site by allowing access for Holden car clubs and former employee open days.
Mr Aquilina said under the agreement, the newly launched GM Specialty Vehicles would continue to access the Lang Lang site for testing and engineering validation new products in local conditions.