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High $A puts brakes on Holden export plans

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High $A puts brakes on Holden export plans

Bruce Newton, The Age, 13/09/07

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The high Australian dollar could sink a plan to export Holden's new VE utility to the US.

Road kill? Difficult drive ahead for Australia's car makers. Picture: Joshua Dowling

General Motors global product development chief Bob Lutz has championed the ute as a potential North American market car. But speaking at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, Mr Lutz put the plans in doubt.

"I will tell you, the business case isn't being helped by the continued strength of the Australian dollar versus the US dollar," he said.

"The pricing we would need to make it successful - the program is at the point where it might not be a sound business proposition.

"Or we would have to subsidise it, which we are basically not going to do. Or we would have to price it to the moon."

Mr Lutz's comments come despite indications from other sources in GM that the ute program could be signed off and announced at the Los Angeles Motor Show in December or the Detroit show in January.

It is most likely to be rebadged as a Pontiac.

Mr Lutz delivered his warning only months before the VE Commodore-based Pontiac G8 sedan goes on sale in the US. It is expected to ship as many as 50,000 a year.

There is no suggestion the G8 is under threat. But there is no doubt the margins are slim because of the exchange rate, although the Australia-US free trade agreement helps balance the books.

For Holden, Mr Lutz's comments are a concern because the export of VE-based vehicles is a key component of its profitability. About 50 per cent of its yearly output of 147,000 cars from its plant in Elizabeth, South Australia, is slated for export.

It is unclear what impact there would be on jobs if the ute export deal does not go ahead. The Elizabeth plant will be at capacity when the Pontiac G8 program starts later this year, and GMH would have to expand production to fit in ute exports.

Holden also ships cars to the Middle East and has smaller deals in South America and Britain. It will supply GM Daewoo in Korea from next year and Opel in Germany is considering the Calais V6 as its flagship luxury model.

Despite Mr Lutz's concerns, plans for the sale of the ute in the US are well advanced. Two left-hand-drive versions are in Detroit for evaluation.

The car's potential arrival has generated plenty of interest among car fans, who see it as a ready-made replacement for the Chevrolet El Camino, a GM model from the 1970s.

But Mr Lutz confirmed that if the ute does make it to the US, it won't be rebadged as a Chevrolet: "We won't say what it is going to be, but we will say it is not going to be a Chevrolet for the simple reason that Chevrolet has way too much stuff in its showroom and it would get lost in there."

The two choices are Pontiac and the commercial brand GMC. GM sources indicate Pontiac is the favourite.

source:

http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleD...=43411&vf=2

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Muuhahahahahahahahaha! Each day the price grows, even for the G8. "Opel in Germany is considering the Calais V6 as its flagship luxury model." That consideration will end on October 1st. :P

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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P_C_S have gone that low that you are manipulating the Aussie currency to not let Holden manufacture and ship our beloved zeta into US? :P

I think you should rather manipulate the Yen and give us a breather.

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:scratchchin:

Hmm.

Hmmmmm, sounds like the North American version will be built in North America. :)

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Hmmmmm, sounds like the North American version will be built in North America. :)

Hmmmm, sounds to me like the business case is going down like the Titanic did. All GM Board members abandon ship! :AH-HA_wink:

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Hmmmm, sounds to me like the business case is going down like the Titanic did. All GM Board members abandon ship! :AH-HA_wink:

What, if anything, does this mean for the Camaro?

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They better still ship it to Canada. Our dollar doesn't suck.

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What, if anything, does this mean for the Camaro?

I don't think it affects the Camaro. It'll be made in Oshawa.

If this puts the brakes on a Pontiac Ute, so be it. I don't think anyone is truly comfortable with it anyway. We can just wait for a NA-built El Camino, the way it sould be. I actually think the bigger loss is the G8 wagon.

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