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Pontiac not the end of Holden exports to the US

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Holden working on Take Two of its Commodore export program to North America

By JOHN MELLOR 28 April 2009

http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf...A2575A6002BF980

ONE of the clear messages coming from inside Holden is that the end of Pontiac may not be the end of Australian exports to the US.

In fact, there are some suggestions that freeing Holden from a struggling brand, which has admitted it did not have enough money to promote the Australian-made Pontiac G8, would give Holden the opportunity to align its export hopes with a GM brand with a stronger future and more resources.

One Holden insider told GoAuto: “We are not going to give up on getting the Commodore into the US.”

The key here is that the end of Pontiac frees Holden up to look at other opportunities in the US market. With the Pontiac link severed, it gives Holden the opportunity to look at a number of different options which Holden people say they have been pursuing but are not able to discuss.

In many ways the Pontiac alignment was unfortunate. The reason Holden was aligned with Pontiac was that Bob Lutz fell in love with the Monaro and thought it would be a great vehicle to revive the Pontiac GTO.

So the GTO was the nameplate that got the Holden relationship between Bob Lutz and Peter Hanenberger going. Then, because the relationship was in place with Pontiac, they followed on with the G8.

With Pontiac gone, what options are there? One possibility is to position the Ute as a downsizing option for Americans driving big pick-ups. The Holden Ute was about to be exported to Pontiac but Pontiac pulled the pin when the Aussie dollar nearly reached parity with the US dollar late last year. Pontiac also ran out of money to launch and promote it.

With the exchange rate now in the right place there is a feeling inside Holden that it should revive the prospects of Ute exports and that GMC could add it to its range.

There is already a Holden relationship with GMC through the Denali concept car which was a Holden Crewman with a GMC front. Holden produced that concept for GMC last year.

What about Chevrolet? While Holdens are sold in the Middle East as Chevrolets, there may be an issue with Chevrolet pitching a rear-drive car when the focus in the US will be front-drive to meet fuel economy targets.

Also, unless Holdens could be sold as niche Chevrolets, like HSV, it could not possibly supply a mainstream brand like Chevrolet in the US with enough vehicles.

But Holden could also become a supplier to Cadillac. Cadillac sells rear-drive cars and Cadillac volumes are smaller and more in line with volumes that can be run through the Elizabeth plant.

GoAuto understands Holden has put business cases for both long-wheelbase and short-wheelbase VEs to Cadillac.

There is clearly demand in the US for the Commodore as a niche vehicle. The G8 had suffered far less than most other GM vehicles in the US and had its best month ever in March with 2939 sales, despite Pontiac admitting that they did not put the marketing dollars into the car.

For Elizabeth, the short-term effect will be minimal because Holden, faced with a drop in export demand of 86 per cent year-on-year, had already scaled back production of left-hand drive cars, anyway. That led to the decision to close the plant for weeks at a time earlier this year.

In addition to pitching for fresh business for the US, Holden is now gearing up for Delta small-car production. While the Delta business case did not need exports to make money, Holden is now looking at the potential for up to 20,000 cars a year for export.

There may also be opportunities in Asia. GM’s Thailand operations are under a cloud because GM does not have the money to keep it going. The GM Thailand operation has been making about 100,000 vehicles a year but the projections are that it will struggle to make 70,000 units in 2009. It makes the Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max.

Closing Thailand would see Thai production moving elsewhere and Holden could possibly step in and pick up other production when the music stops. It has already taken the Delta program from Thailand, which also had its hand up to build the Cruze but lost the business to Holden.

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One of my contacts within the auto manufacturing industry in Adelaide says that all G8 exports were put on hold in January, and there is a large stockpile of them sitting in a holding yard near the port.

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I hope that this is the case...I really think Chevrolet was ALWAYS the better fit for the Holden cars than Pontiac was. The El Camino, the Sport wagon, and the Lumina/Lumina SS are all better fits next to Camaro and Corvette.

I hope this happens. And GM, those built G8's sitting in OZ...send them here and lets get an aggressive program to get them moved and into the arms of a waiting public that needs to be awakened from the automotive slumber they are sitting in right now.

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I don't really understand all this bother with the exchange rate... just hedge the investment with some Forex trading. The airlines all loaded up on fuel futures last year to cash in on the price runup.

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I don't really understand all this bother with the exchange rate... just hedge the investment with some Forex trading. The airlines all loaded up on fuel futures last year to cash in on the price runup.

Not to pick a fight with anyone, but don't you need CASH to hedge? GM is sorely out of that lately.

I hope that something happens, because we are loosing a great platform from OZ that should be sold here and sold here NOW!

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What about Chevrolet? While Holdens are sold in the Middle East as Chevrolets, there may be an issue with Chevrolet pitching a rear-drive car when the focus in the US will be front-drive to meet fuel economy targets.

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Umm,

BUICK PARK AVENUE!

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Oh don't tease Camino.

We told these dumb asses how to do this right years ago (before the GTO even got here) with the Chevelle Project, wouldn't it be ironic if they finally get it right after angering and alienating so many of us?

Bunch of desk-bound fools!

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Oh don't tease Camino.

Please add my name too... I was really excited about the GMC Denali XT concept last year and had hoped it would reach production. A certain someone on here though was kind enough to inform me towards the end of last year that the program was killed due to GM's financial mess. Now it could possibly be back on??? At this point I'd be happy to get a G8 ST-turned GMC whatever, even if it's only a two-seater. The Crewman 4-door would be much more practical for me and I'd really like to see both offered by GMC, to replace the Canyon if need be. I hope mor eof this news comes out soon officially by GM.

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We told these dumb asses how to do this right years ago (before the GTO even got here) with the Chevelle Project, wouldn't it be ironic if they finally get it right after angering and alienating so many of us?

Bunch of desk-bound fools!

Camino, If the Ute does come as a GMC or Chevy model would you be interested to place your money there? Also which brand do you really feel it should go to? As a smaller luxury truck for GMC as a possible Denali model of GMC Ute or the Chevy El Camino?

:scratchchin:

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Camino, If the Ute does come as a GMC or Chevy model would you be interested to place your money there? Also which brand do you really feel it should go to? As a smaller luxury truck for GMC as a possible Denali model of GMC Ute or the Chevy El Camino?

:scratchchin:

Maybe, the devil would be in the details.

My first choice would always be to have it come as a Chevy El Camino - it really is a no-brainer.

I also doubt GM's ability to do justice to the Denali XT anytime soon, and a half -assed version (straight badge job) would be a waste of time , money, and effort. If they do the Denali XT, they should do it right.

So, expect them to announce it as a GMC badge job.... and then cancel it at the last minute. :lol:

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Umm,

BUICK PARK AVENUE!

This makes more sense to me than a Chevy variant. I mean, if it were a Chevy, then the volumes needed for it to replace the Impala are probably too impractical for Elizabeth to handle.

OTOH, a smaller-volume vehicle like the Park Avenue might work; and the pricing can be adjusted accordingly. Besides, much of the engineering for the Chinese version's interior is already done.

In any case, I'd also love to see the GXP version come over all in black/black... Grand National, anyone?

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We told these dumb asses how to do this right years ago (before the GTO even got here) with the Chevelle Project, wouldn't it be ironic if they finally get it right after angering and alienating so many of us?

Bunch of desk-bound fools!

I agree with you. I don't like the underlying tone of the article that suggests that Pontiac "got in the way" of things. Pontiac was a more natural fit for the GTO since the styling would have been met with 1000x the disdain if it came over as, say, a Camaro. The G8 was a natual replacement for the GTO, and the G8 ST only made sense at Pontiac because of the G8. I fail to see how the Holdens would have done any better as Chevies, Buicks, or GMCs. Elizabeth can't crank enough of them out.

I would venture to guess that if the Commodore were to come here as a Chevy, it could do so as an Impala, but it may have to wait a couple of years. I believe the Oshawa owns the right to make Impalas. The W-bod is supposed to be taken behind the old barn and shot around '13, around the same time the next-gen Commodore has been said to be ready. If this were to come to pass, GM would have the lines ready at Oshawa and the capacity necessary to sell them in high volume. If GM were to build a Buick version as well, it could come from Elizabeth since it'll be a lower volume product and able to fetch a higher price point than a Chevy.

If Holden's looking for something to send to the US immediately after the G8 dies, I would send the Chinese PA as is, and the Ute as an El Camino, stat. They're already ready, all they need to do is get on a different boat. PA = instant Lucerne replacement. The Ute has (and always did) have its best shot selling here as an El Camino. Having it made at Elizabeth constricts the volume enough that will afford GM the opportunity to be cautious in reintroducing America to the car based pickup. If it takes off, great - when the next gen is ready, its production can move to Oshawa.

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All of this wasted time and effort is making me so weary...

If done when and how it should have been, GM could have ridden the surge in popularity of RWD in recent years. In fact, I believe they could have solidified that popularity in public perception.

Opportunity lost - mostly due to lousy decision-making and plodding, half-hearted effort.

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All of this wasted time and effort is making me so weary...

If done when and how it should have been, GM could have ridden the surge in popularity of RWD in recent years. In fact, I believe they could have solidified that popularity in public perception.

Opportunity lost - mostly due to lousy decision-making and plodding, half-hearted effort.

I agree. I don't understand why we still have the G-body Lucerne and DTS and the W-body Impala when replacements could have been developed on Zeta instead.

As a cost effective measure, different trim levels of the Commodore could have effectively replaced both the W-body Impala and Grand Prix. Chevrolet would have carried the more mainstream trims while Pontiac would have received the sportier versions.

The Statesman/Caprice could have taken over for both the LeSabre and Park Avenue.

A Zeta based flagship could have taken over for both the STS and DTS.

Fewer products, fewer platforms, and GM would have looked like a more exciting and modern corporation. GM really did drop the ball as far as Zeta is concerned. Maybe instead of worrying about an unflexible profit losing platform that would only underpin low volume toys (Kappa), maybe GM should have focused on Zeta and its ability to underpin several higher volume products. Having Oshawa and Holden producing these products would have kept some of them from being low volume propositions. Very sad indeed.

Of course, this platform appears to be flexible enough that it could have underpinned countless other products (of varying sizes) for GM as well. There are too many ideas to mention here though.

Edited by cire
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The quote that CaptainBooyah pointed out, if true, is the final nail for me. If there is no chance of getting a small, fun RWD coupe/convertible (Alpha) or a full-size Chevelle/Impala replacement (Zeta), and the Camaro will always be in the crosshairs because it doesn't fit with Chevy's new FWD/4-banger philosophy, then Chevy is a dead brand also. Chevy already said their would be no "sport" or "SS" packages on any of the more pedestrian models.

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The quote that CaptainBooyah pointed out, if true, is the final nail for me. If there is no chance of getting a small, fun RWD coupe/convertible (Alpha) or a full-size Chevelle/Impala replacement (Zeta), and the Camaro will always be in the crosshairs because it doesn't fit with Chevy's new FWD/4-banger philosophy, then Chevy is a dead brand also. Chevy already said their would be no "sport" or "SS" packages on any of the more pedestrian models.

Chevy is just staying true to the path they've been on for over 20 years (excluding the Caprice)---all FWD mainstream models, with 1-2 RWD performance models (Camaro, Corvette).

Edited by Cubical
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Chevy is just staying true to the path they've been on for over 20 years (excluding the Caprice)---all FWD mainstream models, with 1-2 RWD performance models (Camaro, Corvette).

[/quote

Judging the nature of Chevrolet based on any 20 year period (especially the last 20) is like judging the US by the 1980s.

The path cannot stay the same now that so many other brands are gone.]

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Chevy is just staying true to the path they've been on for over 20 years (excluding the Caprice)---all FWD mainstream models, with 1-2 RWD performance models (Camaro, Corvette).

Judging the nature of Chevrolet based on any 20 year period (especially the last 20) is like judging the US by the 1980s.

The path cannot stay the same now that so many other brands are gone.]

Not necessarily...that's not a random 20 years, that's the last 20 years. And Ford's line is all FWD except for the Mustang, and Toyota is all FWD, so I wouldn't expect Chevy to change from that path. Like it or not, sales certainly indicate the mainstream prefers dull FWD 4drs. That's reality. I know many people on here can't face reality, but daydreaming will only go so far.

I'd love to see the G8 transform into an Impala, and Chevy also have a small Alpha based RWD model with 3 bodystyles, but realistically, I can't see any of that happening.

Edited by Cubical
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Judging the nature of Chevrolet based on any 20 year period (especially the last 20) is like judging the US by the 1980s.

The path cannot stay the same now that so many other brands are gone.]

Not necessarily...that's not a random 20 years, that's the last 20 years. And Ford's line is all FWD except for the Mustang, and Toyota is all FWD, so I wouldn't expect Chevy to change from that path. Like it or not, sales certainly indicate the mainstream prefers dull FWD 4drs. That's reality. I know many people on here can't face reality, but daydreaming will only go so far.

I'd love to see the G8 transform into an Impala, and Chevy also have a small Alpha based RWD model with 3 bodystyles, but realistically, I can't see any of that happening.

I really don't see Alpha happening, but that doesn't mean that GM should totally throw Zeta out the window. If GM was inventive enough (which seems to be one of their biggest problems), there is no reason Zeta couldn't be adapted to be a viable platform for the corporation well into the future. It seems to be very flexible, it just needs to be put on a weight reduction program (which is true for quite a few GM platforms).

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If that is how it turns out, then GM is well and truly dead already.

Offering the same old, same old, is not a game they can win.

In fact, the last 20 years are a great example of how that strategy has consistently failed.

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This makes more sense to me than a Chevy variant. I mean, if it were a Chevy, then the volumes needed for it to replace the Impala are probably too impractical for Elizabeth to handle.

If it's priced like the G8 it won't be volume, and it would have the added benefit of never stepping on Buick's toes because we'd be talking 2 totally different demographics.

Re the Impala thing, maybe the current Impala could be fleeted as the Chevrolet Classic (a name GM has used for it fleet specials before), leaving the Malibu and this RWD sedan as its retail choices...

Edited by ZL-1
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QUOTE (traumadog @ Apr 29 2009, 12:40 AM)

This makes more sense to me than a Chevy variant. I mean, if it were a Chevy, then the volumes needed for it to replace the Impala are probably too impractical for Elizabeth to handle.

If it's priced like the G8 it won't be volume, and it would have the added benefit of never stepping on Buick's toes because we'd be talking 2 totally different demographics.

Re the Impala thing, maybe the current Impala could be fleeted as the Chevrolet Classic (a name GM has used for it fleet specials before), leaving the Malibu and this RWD sedan as its retail choices...

Personally I say keep Chevy the way it is and as I stated in another thread, I would like to see the G8 stay with GMC as a mid luxury perfomance model in the Denali lineup. This would do very well there with a better profit margin than at Chevy. It also meets their niche market since they can only produce so many. Would be a win win for both Holden and GMC.

:scratchchin:

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