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hyperv6

Some old/new insite on the future of the GP?

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Here is some insite on what Pontiac may do?

Holden eyes exports as GM deal to turn Commodore into Pontiac Grand Prix shapes up

By JOHN MELLOR 23 November 2006

GM HOLDEN will sell more cars overseas than it does in Australia if a plan to export its billion-dollar VE Commodore to the US as the next-generation Pontiac Grand Prix sedan comes to fruition.

In an exclusive interview with GoAuto to discuss the concept of the VE as a world car rather than just an Australian car, company chairman and managing director Denny Mooney said that he was anticipating approval for the US program.

"You will see an announcement in the next three to four months. Assuming it happens, (shipments) would start a little beyond that. I am not making an official announcement (in this discussion)," he told GoAuto, "but it looks very favourable."

"I can tell you unequivocally that we designed the VE with the US in mind."

Mr Mooney confirmed that VE Commodore SS-V four-door sedans were under assessment in Detroit and indicated that speculation in the US motoring media that these Holden sports sedans would be sold as the Pontiac Grand Prix was not far off the mark.

In the strongest indication yet that GM is about to announce renewed Holden exports to Pontiac in the US, Mr Mooney revealed Holden plans to export more cars from the company’s Elizabeth plant in Adelaide than it sells here.

"I think from a manufacturing strategy here in Australia, Holden will ultimately have at least as many exports, if not more exports, than we have domestic (sales of local cars)," he said.

The plans are part of a strategy to drought-proof Holden from the changes taking place in Australia in which large-car sales are drying up following a shift in the nature of the market.

"The one thing everyone needs to remember in this market, as in every market around the world, is that the market is fragmenting," Mr Mooney said. "You are not going to see any market in the future with one car or a couple of car lines dominating the market like we did 10 or 20 years ago.

"Everybody (when assessing large-car performance) wants to compare back to the market 10 years ago, but the market is much more fragmented. There are many more brands out there and many more models out there than there were back then (therefore) you have to find more markets for the car that you have.

"I don’t know if we would go as far as Toyota’s model where they have many more (Camry) exports than they do domestic sales, but I can see in the future to survive we must have a fairly significant amount of export business."

Mr Mooney said that in addition to the Middle East, where sales are expected to remain around 30,000 units a year, the US was "the other big market that we are looking at".

He said that an export program of a four-door sedan to the US market could potentially achieve far more volume than the Pontiac GTO (Monaro), which failed to achieve the 18,000 units expected of it.

"If you look at this kind of vehicle in the US today, the sedan market is 20 times bigger than the coupe market."

Asked if the potential of the Pontiac program was inhibited by using the Monaro coupe body, Mr Mooney said: "There is no question. Coupes are very niche products in the US. Very niche. There is significantly more volume in a sedan.

As sedans got better looking and got more sporty performance in the US market, coupes over time just disappeared."

Mr Mooney said that Pontiac was "the natural partnership" for a Holden-sourced VE sedan program in the US. He has already told Australian media earlier this year that the SS-V would make a great Pontiac and that Holden could play a role in moving Pontiac to rear-wheel drive.

Left: Current Pontiac Grand Prix GXP.

Meanwhile, Mr Mooney said that the first shipments of the VE have gone to the Middle East and the VE launch was held there two weeks ago. "We will do more than 30,000 vehicles there next year and we will do about 30,000 this year.

That includes the Chevrolet Lumina (Commodore) and the Chevrolet Caprice (Statesman). It could increase, but that is our current forecast for next year. I am optimistic. There is a lot of enthusiasm for the product."

This compares with a forecast for 62,000 VZ/VE sales this year in Australia. This means that if Holden was to export more cars than it sold domestically, sales of Pontiacs would have to be well over double those achieved by the GTO.

Mr Mooney said that one of Holden’s strengths was that it already had installed capacity, equipment and infrastructure for the VE architecture. He said that under the GM "flex strategy", a model could now be moved quickly from one plant to another.

"It potentially gives you more options in more markets."

Far from seeing it as a threat that VE production could potentially go elsewhere, Mr Mooney saw the “flex strategy” as an advantage for Holden.

"GM looks very hard at its existing installed capacity before it decides to spend money on new installed capacity. So we have the advantage of having spent half a billion dollars (on VE capacity) over the last three years," he said.

He said that having VE architecture being built elsewhere in the world, like for the Camaro, would benefit Australian parts makers supplying the program and would mean that GM could afford more sophisticated systems for cars sold in small markets. This was because the investment recovery in sophisticated systems was being spread across total VE architecture volumes.

"Some of the engineering that we are doing on that vehicle (the Camaro) that is advancing the architecture will help our vehicles (Commodore) over time because it will apply directly to our vehicles," he said.

"It can help us put more advanced electronic features in our cars here and can help leverage lower cost components that would be common."

Family II demand slows

THE age of the Holden Family II four-cylinder engine, which went into production in Melbourne in 1982, is beginning to catch up with it, the chairman and managing director of GM Holden has told GoAuto. And the four-cylinder plant that makes it may only just see out the decade.

Denny Mooney said that the cut-back of 200 jobs at the Holden engine plant announced last week was attributed to the age of the engine which has led to reduced demand for it around the world.

"Daewoo is going gangbusters but not in the models that use the Family II engine," he said.

"They sell cars in 140 countries around the world under multiple brands with all different powertrains and it just so happens that in some of the regions that take the Family II engine the volumes are down or there are some older models using the Family II engine that are going out of production as some of the newer stuff is coming in.

"I think that by the end of the decade this engine plant will probably discontinue. I must say that several of my predecessors have wrongly predicted the same thing (the imminent demise of the engine).

"But it is still pretty good export business. We will be doing 500 a day next year."

Mr Mooney said that four-cylinder engine production would cease when the engine ran out of customers.

Source: John Mellor/GoAuto.com

Edited by hyperv6

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A GP with RWD and GTO perofrmance equals a sales success!!!!!! Sedan, performance, now all they need is some drop dead gorgeous looks.

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Aahh! That is the hard part!

Anyone will agree on performance but so many disagree on what a Pontiac looks like.

At this point too few have been buying what has been offered so it would be best to go a new stand out design but not get cartoonish about it.

I have seen to often it does not look like a Pontiac or a GTO.

To find a design that fits the larger opion by the public is the million dollar question.

I feel they need to have a rich tasteful looking design that will appeal outside the Pontiac fans prospective. Without new blood Pontiac will die.

Think Audi with a better nose. Add to it a wheel and tire combo that even on the badse model makes it look upscale.

The key is to make a car that looks and feels like a $50,000 car at a $35,000 price.

GM needs to make it cool to own a Pontiac again. They are doing this with Caddy and have finally made Saturn attractive so it is possible.

Edited by hyperv6

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This article infers that the GTO did not hit its targets due to the size of its relative market. Which is partly true, but the bigger picture is that the GTO was too plain in design. And so is the new VE.

While the new VE has excellent proportions and execution, some of its key styling elements date back to 1999. A more exciting, risky design is necessary to get noticed in the US sport sedan market.

Better reliability couldn't hurt as well.

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This article infers that the GTO did not hit its targets due to the size of its relative market.  Which is partly true, but the bigger picture is that the GTO was too plain in design.  And so is the new VE.

While the new VE has excellent proportions and execution, some of its key styling elements date back to 1999.  A more exciting, risky design is necessary to get noticed in the US sport sedan market.

Better reliability couldn't hurt as well.

220234[/snapback]

In a few years from now the new VE is just a toster with a lot of power.

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Sure seems like the VE's will be that way. They're decent looking, but way too bland.

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No matter waht Pontiac does people will B!+ch.

It is either too bland or to over the top.

The way I see it Pontiac has to define what they want ansd stick with it. They need to make sure it is something to draw more buyers into the dealers and sell to those that never before owned a Pontiac.

Let face it many who bought the original GTO and Bonnie's are in rest homes today or maybe driving a STS or god forbid a Camary.

I would like to say the VE is bland but Toyota and Honda both are selling bland to a great profit.

Name one Toyota that is exciting???

Pontiac needs to sell what will sell to anyone not just the old Pontiac buyers. As of now they are not supporting the brand so they need to find someone else.

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No matter waht Pontiac does people will B!+ch.

It is either too bland or to over the top.

The way I see it Pontiac has to define what they want ansd stick with it. They need to make sure it is something to draw more buyers into the dealers and sell to those that never before owned a Pontiac.

Let face it many who bought the original GTO and Bonnie's are in rest homes today or maybe driving a STS or god forbid a Camary.

I would like to say the VE is bland but Toyota and Honda both are selling bland to a great profit.

Name one Toyota that is exciting???

Pontiac needs to sell what will sell to anyone not just the old Pontiac buyers. As of now they are not supporting the brand so they need to find someone else.

228622[/snapback]

Toyota and Honda sell not on style, not on handling/power, not on excitement/pizazz/character.......they sell on reputation. Hard-earned, disciplined earned reputation for great engineering, durability, and efficiency, among other things.

Pontiac, GM, Chrysler, Ford, et al. must find something appealing that stands out in thier products to get to the market and yell it at the streets.....all the while meeting all the standards for efficiency, refinement, quality, and safety. AND trying to improve on thier durability standards, as this is yet another quantitive measure that has yet to improve dramatically and be proven for the domestics.

Pontiac and GM had some pretty great, dramatic cars in the '60's. The designs were simple yet characterful. The original Firebird is one of my favorite designs ever, and I still think those curves, those elegant hips, that mysterious face, all dressed in black would be a perfect look for Pontiac. They just have to rediscover thier mojo. In an endless quest to manage thier brands and make the most of nothing with small changes, GM robbed thier products of identity in the 80's, maybe as far back as the 70's; it has been struggling to get back on track since that time. Pontiac has a crapper identity right now, though they are greatly being helped by each cool car they come out with, Solstice and GTO are two, the only ones that could be considered cool. G6 coupe is not bad, not bad, but its hampered by a feminine look in all the other versions of the G6 line, and the coupe itself is awkward, and also the Pontiac face is worn, worn worn. Get rid of it. Redo it.

I personally think the Zeta Commodore would be a great transition car, it's beautiful, sleek, dramatic....but it needs definitely more character to be agressive like a Pontiac should be. That said, it's more Pontiac than any Pontiac currently sold, as it's more aggressive and stealth than any other Pontiac sold currently, especially in the SS trims. The original Firebird was very stealthy and very aggressive at the same time, a great combination of simple design with aggressiveness and tension to convey athleticism, strength, and attitude.

EDIT: your idea of Audi with a better nose is basically what I'm talking about. Audis are very simple design, with lots of character.

Edited by turbo200

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Audis are too simplistic and plain design-wise- that's not going to pull anyone in. Boring.

Pontiac had a hammerlock on #3 in U.S. sales in the '60s because they had their own engineering department and they operated autonomously. The guys involved were car men & engineers, and the innovation poured forth; far more than at the supposed innovation Division, Olds. But you're just not going to see that again.

Then again, Cadillac got it's Engineering Department back..... one can hope. The receipe is clear, PMD just needs the ingredients and the leeway.

A dated Aussie transitional nose-job is not the answer (and I like the GTO).

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