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Camaro poised for Australia

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Camaro poised for Australia

Words - Joshua Dowling

Chevrolet says right-hand-drive is coming, Holden says 'we'll take it'

The iconic Chevrolet Camaro muscle car will finally be built in right-hand-drive, opening the door to its export to Australia as a replacement for the Holden Monaro, possibly as soon as 2011.

The vice chairman of General Motors Bob Lutz told a group of journalists at the Detroit motor show earlier today that a right-hand-drive version of the car is coming.

When answering a question from the Carsales Network about the possibility of desirable American cars such as the full size pick-ups and the Corvette being available in right-hand-drive, Bob Lutz said: "With the currency and so on we now have a golden opportunity to export from the United States, and with the excellence of the product we really should be pushing exports.

"I think you can pretty much count on a right-hand-drive Camaro.

"The Camaro at some point will be factory right-hand-drive. That is what we are currently looking at ... with a great deal of focus, built in the plant in Canada and shipped to right-hand-drive markets from Canada.

"Most of the parts are there. All we have to do really is reverse the instrument panel. All of the right hand drive bits are a given because of the Holden architecture."

In the same frank interview, Bob Lutz added to the speculation that the Commodore could be sold in America as a Chevrolet, describing it as a "four-door Corvette". This follows comments from other senior GM executives in recent days, who have said the Commodore "could make a pretty good Chevrolet".

Holden designed and engineered the Camaro in Australia on behalf of Chevrolet because it shares its core underpinnings with the Commodore, but the muscle car is made in Canada.

The boss of Holden, Alan Batey, who was in the same briefing and seemed surprised by the early announcement, told a group of Australian journalists afterwards: "I want the car as quickly as they can get it to me but [Chevrolet] have got some work to do to make it happen.

"We've had our hand up for this car since we did the engineering work in Australia. It now depends on how quickly we can get it. We've always wanted it. We'll take it, but it depends on how soon it becomes available."

The Camaro is a sell-out success in the US where it has been on sale for a year and has a six month waiting list.

But the hope is that demand in North America will plateau in 2011 and allow enough spare production capacity to build a small number of right-hand-drive cars for Australia and other export markets.

"I don't think it's going to happen in 2010 because of the demand in the US, but beyond that, who knows?" said Batey.

"We don't have a launch date, but can it happen fast? Yes it can. It all depends on how soon it can be made available in right-hand-drive. The engineering configuration is done it's just a matter of releasing the parts and finding the capacity to build it.

"If [Chevrolet] comes to us in three years, it may be too late. I can do good volumes today, so we need to know sooner rather than later."

Holden expects the Camaro would be sold at a price premium and be more expensive than the Monaro, which cost about $60,000.

The Camaro would likely be priced closer to $75,000, which would make it the most expensive car in the Holden catalogue -- but that figure is barely half the price of privately imported and converted versions of the Camaro.

The Camaro would likely wear a Chevrolet badge and be sold through selected Holden dealers, although these details are yet to be confirmed.

Holden believes the Camaro would be a "niche, icon" car and sell in lower numbers than the Monaro because of its premium price.

HSV could also do a version of the Camaro with more power, larger, six-piston brakes, a retuned exhaust and magnetically controlled suspension that it uses on its flagship GTS model and sell it as a "HSV enhanced" edition, but Holden's performance car division is yet to conduct any work on the car.



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