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Oracle of Delphi

First look: Holden Ute becomes Pontiac sport truck

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By JAMES STANFORD 16 March 2008

GM HOLDEN has confirmed it will export its new Ute and a new high-performance version of the G8 sedan to the US.

GMH chairman and managing director Mark Reuss also vowed to further extend the company’s export portfolio when he announced the deal at Fishermens Bend this morning.

The Ute will be sold as a Pontiac G8 "sport truck" variant, although its actual title is yet to be decided. Pontiac will ask the public to come up with an apt title for the car-based ute.

The Pontiac ute, which was styled by Holden designers in Australia, picks up a similar front-end to the G8 sedan.

It will presented in the US for the first time at the New York motor show this Thursday morning along with the high-performance 6.2-litre G8 GXP, a more powerful version of the VE Commodore-based sedan.

Mr Reuss said the export announcement was a significant step for Holden.

“The two models really enhance Holden’s global position as the centre of rear-wheel drive,” he said.

More than 50 per cent of Holden’s production capacity at its Elizabeth plant is dedicated to export models.

Announcing the new export contracts, Mr Reuss reinforced his view that Holden should chase even more overseas sales.

“I have the personal commitment to expand what we are doing from an export and engineering standpoint in Australia,” he said.

The G8 GXP sedan runs a 6.2-litre LS3 V8 from the Corvette rather than the 6.0-litre V8s used in existing Commodore and HSV models.

It is expected that the more advanced 6.2-litre engine will also replace the V8s in the Holden Commodore and HSV range in Australia at some stage in the future.

HSV is likely to take the engine first, but a senior engineer from the company told GoAuto last month he was not aware of the plan to build a 6.2-litre Pontiac G8 GXP.

By packaging a 6.2-litre for the GXP, Holden has already done a lot of the foundation work for its inclusion in the Commodore/HSV models.

Pontiac has announced the ute will run a 6.0-litre LS2 V8 with "displacement on demand" cylinder-deactivating, fuel-saving technology.

That means Australians could soon expect this feature on the 6.0-litre V8 engines in the Commodore range.

Car-based utes are not new to the US, with Ford selling its Ranchero and GM offering the Chevrolet El Camino and GMC Caballero. Sales of all variants peaked in the 1970s, but the segment struggled in the 1980s and the final El Camino was built in 1987.

Nothing like those vehicles are currently on the market in the US, with the closest models being pick-up trucks like the Ford F150 fitted with high-output engines.

Holden has long attempted to export its Ute model to the US and hopes were raised that the previous-generation vehicle would join the GM garage along with the Monaro-based Pontiac GTO, which failed to win the hearts and minds of American customers.

Mr Reuss was not about to nominate a sales target for the VE-based ute, stating that it was not clear how well it would sell in the US.

“It went out of production because no-one wanted to buy it. This one is terrific, but I really don’t know (how it will sell),” Mr Reuss said.

“We don’t know what something like the ute will do in the US from a buyer’s standpoint, but it is defining a new segment and we are very excited about that,” he said.

When asked if production capacity at Holden’s Elizabeth plant could pose a problem if the G8 ute took off in the US, Mr Reuss said the company would be able to handle it.

“We hope we will have that problem. We’ll work out how to deal with it, but that’s a nice problem to have,” Mr Reuss said.

The G8 GXP sedan will go into production later this year, while the Pontiac ute production won’t start until the second half of next year.

The V8 engine to be slotted into the GXP currently generates 300kW and 546Nm in the Corvette. While the G8 is only offered with an automatic transmission, the GXP is going to be made available with a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual.

In the US, the general manager for Buick, Pontiac and GMC, Jim Bunnell said the Pontiac ute would be a segment-defining vehicle.

“There’s simply nothing else like the G8 sport truck on the road today and we definitely believe that there are customers who will be excited by its distinctive design, performance and cargo capabilities,” Mr Bunnell said.

Mr Reuss made it clear what he thought Pontiac should call the new model.

“I had one suggestion - that they call it the Ute and get on with it,” he said.

Link - http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf...A25740E0011D7B8

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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I wonder if this is why we keep hearing fluctuating G8 production numbers.

If both cars are coming from the same line, wouldn't Holden be able to adjust for demand? Therefore if the Ute is hotter than the G8, technically they could increase Ute production and cut G8 production.

Also, the fact that Holden will adopt the 6.2L as their base powerplant adds fuel to my speculation that we might see increases in power from the GXP in coming years. (Kind of like what happened with the GTO)

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HSV may adopt the 6.2 L LS3 as the base powerplant (currently the LS2). In fact it's inevitable. Don't get too excited, nor about the figures HSV puts out, which are the obsolete DIN standard (popular with tuners and Ford Australia) from the '70s, not one of the more realistic ISO-based standards developed later.

The Sport truck does not get the LS2, but the same L92 V8 as the regular sedan.

Edited by thegriffon
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Any good news regarding Pontiac gladdens my heart.
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Nice that GM is asking the public, but :duh: what's wrong with the name G8 Sport Truck?

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Nice that GM is asking the public, but :duh: what's wrong with the name G8 Sport Truck?

Or as suggested by the Holden guy...what's wrong with G8 Ute? That still gives it more Aussie flair. ST or Ute are my tops.

The question about how it will actually do in the US market is my main question too...I was born right as the El Camino was killed off, and was never sure how it was truly perceived and sold. That remains for the G8 truck...I love the G8 sedan and see the uses of the G8 truck...but really? It's a hmm...not many people (that I know of) who would want/buy a 2 door car with a truck bed. Fun, cool, V8, etc. but very, very niche.

What does everyone else think of the REAL prospects of this, coming to a Pontiac lot near you soon? Limited number niche product? Higher volume and popular? In between? A product no one asked for or wants? What about the El Camino...was it really a popular car or a joke punch line?

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The El Camino sold about a million copies over its run.

This new Pontiac is limited to about 10k/year, so selling all of them easily is a good bet.

The downside is that CAFE and other excuses may be used to rob us of the entire G8 line prematurely.

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The El Camino sold about a million copies over its run.

This new Pontiac is limited to about 10k/year, so selling all of them easily is a good bet.

The downside is that CAFE and other excuses may be used to rob us of the entire G8 line prematurely.

Trust me there is no "may" about it. :AH-HA_wink:

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my only problem with calling it the G8 UTE... how many stupid americans would pronounce it OOTAY

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my only problem with calling it the G8 UTE... how many stupid americans would pronounce it OOTAY

Or pronounced as individual letters... U-T-E... The industry has been long obsessed with MLAs, and Pontiac has been no exception... GTO, GXP, GTP, etc...

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Trust me there is no "may" about it. :AH-HA_wink:

:nono:

Sad and stupid, but that just means we need to get'em while they're hot.

I'm not missing this boat, since my car buying will be forced into early retirement by the foolishness of others.

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:nono:

Sad and stupid, but that just means we need to get'em while they're hot.

I'm not missing this boat, since my car buying will be forced into early retirement by the foolishness of others.

I suspect the CAFE standards are just a convenient excuse for forces within GM that are against mainstream RWD models, the forces that want all non-Cadillac models to be generic FWDers... (i.e. PCS and his GME minions).

Edited by moltar
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I suspect the CAFE standards are just a convenient excuse for forces within GM that are against mainstream RWD models, the forces that want all non-Cadillac models to be generic FWDers... (i.e. PCS and his GME minions).

Minions? I have onions, not minions! Garlic anyone? :AH-HA_wink:

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I for one love this vehicle, but when it comes down to it, I'm not the "target market" since I need a vehicle that can handle at least 5 people at one time. If I had the luxury of financial bliss, this car would join the stable in no time. So far I really like the G8 Sedan, LOVE the G8 ST, and really LOVE the Sportwagon that we're unfortunately not getting :rolleyes: So I'm all for the G8 ST, but because I don't have the cash to justify a 2-seat vehicle purchase with my family transporting needs, my admiration of the ST means absolutely nothing to GM. However, if the Denali XT concept were to be produced, I would do what I needed to do in order to park that in my garage ASAP. :AH-HA_wink:

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i'm not a big fan of "sport trucks".

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Trust me there is no "may" about it. :AH-HA_wink:

so you admit they are just excuses and not actual valid reasons?

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I'm not in the target market for it, the G8 sedan is more to my taste...but it's a nice addition to the lineup, IMHO. In a world of generic, disposable FWD transportation modules, a new car from an North American market brand with RWD and V8 should be cherished as something worthwhile, IMHO.

Edited by moltar
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a new car from an American automaker with RWD and V8 should be cherished as something worthwhile, IMHO.

You mean Cadillac? Last I looked Holden was not American, and that's who manufactures the G8. :AH-HA_wink:

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You mean Cadillac? Last I looked Holden was not American, and that's who manufactures the G8. :AH-HA_wink:

Weasel answer, and you know it.

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I'm not in the target market for it, the G8 sedan is more to my taste...but it's a nice addition to the lineup, IMHO. In a world of generic, disposable FWD transportation modules, a new car from an American automaker with RWD and V8 should be cherished as something worthwhile, IMHO.

Absolutely!

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You mean Cadillac? Last I looked Holden was not American, and that's who manufactures the G8. :AH-HA_wink:

Don't be an ass...GM owns Holden. Pontiac is an American brand.

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Don't be an ass...GM owns Holden. Pontiac is an American brand.

So? Still doesn't make Holden American. With that logic GM Europe is American too. :smilewide:

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