October 2013 – Rolf Glenk – GM Holden Ltd’s Powertrain Engineering
Our October speaker, Rolf Glenk from Holden has over 25 years experience in the automotive industry with Nissan, Bosch, Tickford, Delphi and now GM for the last 10 years. Rolf offered a passionate overview of the complexity of the modern automotive. Based at GM’s Testing Grounds in Lang Lang approximately 90km south east of Melbourne, where since 1957, Holden has exhaustively tested its vehicles; Rolf’s talk gave an absorbing account of the extremely rigorous testing that goes into every new model and upgrade to ensure the car will perform across the vast range of environmental and climatic conditions, not just in Australia but across Holden’s global market.
Rolf first gave a scripted corporate presentation as an insight into the history of Holden in Australia. Originating in the 1860’s, Holden first made saddles in Adelaide SA but then as Holden and Frost made carriages in 1885 before producing their first automobile in 1910. The famous “Lion and Stone” was designed in 1928 and represented the legend of man’s invention of the wheel. Following the great recession of the late twenties and the massive drop in production, GM purchased the company, merging it with their North American Operation to become GM- Holden’s and the first GM car rolled off the production line in 1948. In 1978 the first of the very successful “Commodore” range was produced and in 2006, as a result of $1b investment, the first fully Australian designed Commodore was released. Today, GM worldwide produces over 45 different models from 2 architectures and 6 different body styles. The Australian facilities in SA and the Engine facility in Prot Melbourne produce the Full commodore range as well as the Cruze.
Holden exports cars mainly to the Middle East under the Chevrolet brand as well as America where the cars, according to Rolf, have been purchased for police work. According to the Holden website the company has now exported nearly three quarter of a million cars in five decades.
As Rolf enthusiastically explained the Lang Lang property was purchased in 1955 and comprises some 44km of sealed and unsealed roads designed for a range of performance and high speed testing as well as specific and general durability testing. The track which received a $1.2m facelift in 1992 provides a network of ride and handling roads, rough tracks, twists and ‘rattle and squeak’ tests as well as mud and water baths. In addition, there is a state of the art emissions laboratory to do the extensive testing now required for certification to Australian and international regulatory requirements.
As Rolf pointed out, the Lang Lang facilities, extensive though they are, cannot provide the range of tests required for a global supplier and so the grounds are complemented with GM testing facilities in Arizona, Michigan, Mexico and Brazil. Rolf’s talk gave a brief insight into the vast amount of testing that has to be done to the modern automobile to ensure that the GM car meets not just the needs of the ever more discerning customer but also the various regulatory requirements faced around the world. The complexity of today’s vehicles was perhaps best demonstrated by the interesting point that the electronic computer programs that controls today’s automobile has the manual equivalent of 15,700 knobs to adjust!
And while Holden’s future is uncertain in Australia it seems that the testing grounds are as busy as ever, endorsed by the fact that Rolf was first spotted trying to find a parking place in an unmarked left hand drive vehicle. The society wishes to thank Rolf and our Society member and father Dieter Glenk for arranging a very interesting talk.
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Rolf Glenk who is the Senior Calibration Engineer and Diagnostic Strategist in GM Holden Ltd’s Powertrain Engineering Department gave us an overview of the complexity of the modern automotive and the state of Australia’s car industry.
October 11th 2013 12:30pm at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club