In this year when there is more bad news coming from the car manufacturing sector, it is sometimes hard to appreciate just how much things have changed since the bad old days of protectionism.
Our cars used to be expensive and somewhat dated technologically as they were engineered, designed and manufactured for our rather small domestic market. Nissan was forced to close its local manufacturing and Mitsubishi has long been teetering on the edge.
But while Ford is vulnerable, Toyota is powering ahead and GM Holden's progress has been spectacular. Adelaide-made Commodore and Caprice cars are exported to the Middle East where they are the number one selling car and the United States. The Caprice itself is manufactured in Shanghai and sold as a Buick in China.
In fact Commodore was created from the ground up for global markets and a number of North American cars are to be based on its engineering unperpinnings. Soon to go into production are Melbourne-engineered vehicles including a new Chevrolet Camaro supercar.
GMH finds itself as one of only two rear wheel drive engineering centres within GM, the other being Cadillac with its inherently more expensive design ethos.
This all comes to mind with the revelation that yet another Melbourne-engineered GM show car is to debut at the Chicago Auto Show on Wednesday. The GMC Denali XT is a concept vehicle that just might go into production.
The muscular looking four door utility is based on the VE Commodore platform and features GM's two-mode, petrol/ethanol/electric hybrid powerplant. It looks like a typical big American truck-based ute, but being based on a sedan is lighter, safer and more fuel efficient.
GMH just keeps coming up with such surprises. It is a pity that those who seem to think that Australia is inexorably heading to a future with no car industry continue to ignore how different and how competitive the sector is today.
And it is not just competitive in manufacturing - it is only the high dollar that is making vehicle exports marginal at the moment. It is competitive in skills, ideas, and design and engineering innovation.