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Holden Ute set to hit the streets in US

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Holden ute set to hit the streets in US

By Danny Rose, AAP, 02/08/07

The Holden ute, that bastion of the Australian bush, appears headed for the streets of downtown USA, under a new deal.

The Holden ute, that bastion of the Australian bush, appears headed for the streets of downtown USA.

Holden's US parent company General Motors (GM) has had a left-hand-drive version of the new VZ ute for more than a year in Detroit, where it has undergone testing.

Holden chairman and managing director Denny Mooney said the ute could be the next Australian-designed, and built, vehicle to be exported to the massive US car market following the all-new VE Commodore.

"They like their trucks in the US," Mr Mooney told reporters in Melbourne.

"I can tell you we've been working on that for over a year (and) the ute would be very, very unique in the US.

"It has a fair likelihood (of happening)."

Mr Mooney was speaking as he released details of a "huge" export deal struck with GM that will see thousands of VE Commodores built at Holden's plant in Elizabeth, in South Australia, exported to the US.

The Commodores, which will feature a new nose, grille and bonnet, will go into production later this year.

The cars will be re-badged and marketed to US car buyers as the Pontiac G8.

Mr Mooney would not be drawn on the dollar value of the deal with GM, and would only say exports to the US should exceed the 30,000-plus Commodores that Holden ships to the Middle East every year.

"I'm not going to give a forecast ... but it has the potential to be our largest export market," Mr Mooney said.

"(And) we have got to do exports if we're going to survive."

Mr Mooney said the new demand would shore up Holden's Australian operations, but it would not prompt the re-introduction of a third shift at the Elizabeth plant, which cut back its operations in late 2005.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) said the cutback cost 1,400 jobs, and for the 4,500 workers still employed at the site there was a sense of relief.

"This is very positive news," AMWU South Australian secretary John Camillo said.

"This is job security for the workers and for the first and second tier suppliers ... whereas before things were looking a bit bleak".

Holden's all-new Commodore was unveiled last year following a $1.2 billion Australian-based development program.

It has since won Wheels Car of the Year, but it has also faced rising petrol prices which have pushed up demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Mr Mooney conceded demand for full-sized vehicles is "not as big as it was once".

"Is there still a future for this kind of automobile? Absolutely.

"Our job is to keep improving the fuel efficiency ... but people like the roominess.

"If you have kids it's nice to have a rear seat that's a bit away from you, and if you travel it has a nice boot."

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Australian government would provide the nation's car makers with more than $7 billion to help them become globally competitive up to 2015.

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Edited by NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

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I hope that both the single cab and the Crewman make it over!

Having a truck box is awesome, but I'd prefer having something with sportier handling and power.

Edited by Captainbooyah

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:D Yea, I hope both versions make it here. There is a market for this truck here and it will fill a niche that no one else fills forrectly. I would love a crew cabe with AWD. :P That would totally rock. Perfomance with the truck capability in a down to earth car style. :D

GO GM!!!

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Those in that picture are the previous genoration ones. I hope with the new ones they can do a better more suttle shape with the top of the side glass and bodywork pointing strate back instead of upword on the 2dr version. I could see a 2dr version as a Chevy El Camino with a 4dr crew version sold by GMC!

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In Australia alot of these are purchased as sort of urban sports cars.

The power slides you can do with a small block V8 through an unladen pickup rear, all in a nicely tied-down car based chassis....lots of fun...

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wonder if they'll remove the side vents.

having pontiac & chevy and/or GMC sharing the same design cues would be a little weird

Hmm... no wierder than the Cobalt/G5 or Equinox/Torrent...

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Wth all due respect how many *$%#@ing years of talk-talk-talk

think-think-think and how many focus groups does it take to

bring over the ElCamino to the USA?

Are you kidding me? Is it that effin' difficult to put 2 & 2 together!?

Honestly... it's somewhere between 1.999 and 2.001. <_<

2dr = elCamino

4dr = Saguaro?

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I think it could work as a sports truck, with very limited volume, in the neighborhood of 15k units, and aggressively priced as a Chevy. The question mark for me would be the look and overall functionality. who will want a 2-seater pickup that can tow and do some heavy duty work but is mostly designed to look fast and sporty? is there even a market for that anymore? I believe in the $20-30k segment they might have no problem selling out like 20k units.

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I've driven and used the 'Ute' before, and the practicality and fun that it offers is awesome. My only beef with it was that driving on the left hand side of the road sucked.

There have to be people that want a smaller vehicle with the utility of a box, that can give some serious fun. A vehicle like this might just erode at the Ridgeline's and Sport Trac's sales.

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If it shares a front-end with the G8 (except for a Chevy grille and bumper), then this is a stupid move. However, if the Ute gets a different face, then do it: it will be quite unique in the US landscape.

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Here's what I wrote, and still believe, in the other thread about the Ute coming stateside:

....here's my argument for making the Ute a permanent addition to GMNA's lineup as an El Camino, a Sprint/Caballero, or both:

I see the Ute as an affordable, more carlike option to the Colorado/Canyon, for people who want decent ride and handling, yet still need an open bed for the occasional trip to Home Depot. Since the GMT355s are hardly class-competitve, and admittedly less capable than the S10/S15 that preceeded them, why not replace the lost capability with refinement and comfort that can come from a car-based vehicle? An El Camino or Sprint/Caballero would give GM the option of either a) making the Colorado significantly bigger to better compete with its competition or b) discontinuing the less popular, less useful versions of the GMT355 (2wd and 4x4 reg. cab).

I think they've learned their mistake from the SSR and won't price it out of the ballpark. Hopefully they can offer a V6 "work truck" style version for around $20K (prefererrably a little less), and go up from there. I will probably get the V8 anyway 8).

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I think it would cost a lot to get the Ute variants all US certified; admittedly a lot less than developing a whole new platform. But I think they should stick the cash into a Canyon / Colorado refresh. Those were designed at about the height of GM-ugly, and don't seem to have the hardware to overcome mediocre looks. If they looked good, got the 4.2 six as an option, and upgraded to the new GM interior standard I think they serve a bigger part of the smaller truck market that the Utes would. The vacuum in this market caused by the Ranger going away could help the C/Cs if they had something new to talk about.

I go to Home Depot a lot, and its amazing what a Montana can haul. I don't need a Ute. If I were forced to buy a truck it would be more Colorado / Tacoma sized, not a car based toy.

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I've driven and used the 'Ute' before, and the practicality and fun that it offers is awesome. My only beef with it was that driving on the left hand side of the road sucked.

There have to be people that want a smaller vehicle with the utility of a box, that can give some serious fun. A vehicle like this might just erode at the Ridgeline's and Sport Trac's sales.

I agree

I am seeing this as a California car. A niche sports car with a box on the back for your windsurfer. Maybe 15k-20k units a year volume.

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I know i've said it on here before, but I do see the Ute going to the US as a El Camino. Volumes won't be huge, I think you'd be lucky to see more than 10-15k per year, but that would be enough. The comments that people have made about it being a sporty alternative is exactly how the Ute is marketed in Australia, and hence why its a good seller.

Plus, they're heaps of fun to get sideways! There is a 1000hp Ute used for drifting over here....(see http://capa.com.au)

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With the buzz building on this, I'm predicting a NY Auto Show announcement of some kind. Could it happen?

When this thing does hit North America, I will be trading the Avalanche for a Crewman if it makes it over with the regular cab El Camino. The V-6 would be as quick as the V-8 Av and the mileage would/should be better. I think this is a smart move for people who love pickups but want better efficiency with the occasional need for cargo capacity in the bed.

In other words GM, bring it (especially the Crewman).

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