By on May 17, 2012

Holden is expected to make an announcement regarding the export of its Commodore vehicles to North America – essentially confirming the existence of the forthcoming 2013 Chevrolet SS Performance – and apparently it may not be limited to sedans. Utes and wagons could be arriving at some point as well.

Australia’s Drive, an auto publication affiliated with the Sydney Morning Herald, said that Holden is coming “very soon”, possibly on Friday. And it gets even better

The export deal is expected to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars and form the basis for a crucial new V8-powered performance model for Chevrolet. It could also expand to involve ute and sportwagon variants.

Drive suggests that the recent $1 billion investment in Holden by GM and the Australian government not only re-affirms the Commodore’s place in Holden’s lineup (despite a growing shift to small cars, and the Commodore becoming more of a fleet car for companies), and that the next generation Commodore lineup – including the sedan, wagon, Ute and long-wheelbase versions, could be built in North America.

The low volume nature of the SS suggests that the car may be a test program for another large, rear-drive sedan as well as a halo vehicle for Chevrolet. A perfect storm of unfortunate events helped torpedo the Pontiac G8, but a new Caprice, with a more mainstream Chevrolet badge and a more defined focus could gain more traction in the marketplace. The lack of a small pickup to replace the Colorado could help pave the way for a Chevrolet Ute. And how about those LPG versions that are readily available in Australia. Maybe a CNG version, in line with GM’s full-size trucks? The possibilities are endless. Holden’s focus, on the other hand, seems to be shifting as well. Lots more rebadged Daewoo cars, and a focus on helping engineer cars for China. Today, the big, rear-drive sedan Commodore plays a role akin to the Chevrolet SS – a halo player that’s not the star of the show, but important for reasons beyond mere volume.

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60 Comments on “Holden About To Confirm American Commodore Exports – And Not Just Sedans, Either...”


  • avatar

    Let’s hope it actually works, as per Panther Love demands success!

    They did a study on this you know, “60% of the time it works, every time.”

  • avatar
    ajla

    Hopefully this isn’t just another Zeta tease.

    I am also hoping GM knows this plan probably won’t bring scorching sales numbers.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not scorching sales numbers – it’s profit.

      If they build the spiritual successor to the Impala SS’s of the 1960’s…with enough creature comforts to make it a pleasant surprise, it oughta work.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        And its more than profits.

        GM is actually going to be making money on Holden imports because, once the word gets around, people will choose to buy Holden products because they have a reputation in Australia as being problem-free even when abused in the wide-open spaces of the outback where there are no speed limits.

        The current Camaro was developed, fine-tuned and tweaked in Australia by Holden for GM and even though it is now made in Canada, it has proven to be a darn good car in any trim or engine version.

        Anyone who read the article on testing the Camaro in Australia came away with the idea that Holden beat the crap out of their testers.

        Holden products have consistently been solid, well-built, high quality vehicles. It must be their like-minded union members who just want to crank out a great product with each and every vehicle that rolls down the line.

      • 0 avatar
        smallenginesmakemesad

        There are no more unlimited speed roads in Australia. Even crossing the Nullarbor, where you can drive in a straight line for hours without seeing another car the limit is 110km/h (about 70mph).

        The Northern Territory was the last to impose a speed limit of 130km/h in 2006.

        It is interesting to note that in 2006, the year the 130km/h limit was introduced, 44 people died on NT roads. In 2007 57 were killed in road accidents, and in 2008 a total of 75 motorists perished.
        Source: http://www.themotorreport.com.au/39904/nt-opposition-proposes-scrapping-of-highway-speed-limits

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        smallenginesmakemesad, you are absolutely correct. There are posted speed limits, as there are on the autobahns of Germany these days.

        However, there are scofflaws everywhere and my former Aussie roommate from college told me some interesting tales from the district where his constables patrol. Often they don’t chase speeders. They just radio ahead to another patrol.

        It is also true that many people died on those roads and not always from excessive speed. More often it was tire failure or inattentiveness while driving and loss of control.

        Higher speed limits, fewer accidents. Lower speed limits, more deaths. They found the same thing along I-10 in Arizona after they raised the speedlimit from 55mph (88kph) to 75mph (120kph). Deaths went down with the higher speed limits.

        Just like in our states of Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas where the posted speed limit on the Interstates is 75mph (120kph), traffic generally flows at 85mph (136kph), even the heavies (trucks with trailers).

        Yet, there are people both here and in Australia who often far exceed the posted speed limits. And so it was that someone in a Holden Commodore earlier this year crossed paths with my former roommate’s constables while being clocked at 155mph (248kph).

        You can often outrun a patrol vehicle but you can’t outrun a radio. They were patiently waiting for him about 15 miles down the road. I got the impression from my friend’s email that they were disappointed their Fords couldn’t do 155mph, else they would have given chase.

        Seems that lots of people driving Holden products like to cruise at very high speeds, he told me. Maybe Holden products inspire their drivers to experience the adrenalin rush.

        Like the Holden inspired Pontiac G8, I fully expect the SS to make an impact with aficionados if and when it comes to North America albeit tuned down, except in law enforcement trim.

  • avatar
    86er

    The Australian plants need this, badly.

    Large car demand is falling in Australia, the last redoubt, but I don’t know how they’ll overcome the US$/AUS$ exchange issue and still turn a profit.

    Mind you, the yen is also high, so it’s not just a GM problem.

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      They won’t be profitable.

    • 0 avatar
      Dsemaj

      My best bet is because this is going to be called “SS Performance”, this’ll be a model like the G8 GXP, with higher features/performance, which means GM should be able to demand a higher price for it. Hopefully that should solve the issues of profitability.

      I live in Adelaide where the Commodore factory is, and with the current large car market, Holden definitely needs this. In this town, Mitsubishi used to make the Magna (exported to US as the Diamante) and eventually the 380 (Galant modified for local conditions) – which died in 2008 due to lack of sales and losing vital imports to the US and Japan. Holden has some help from the now locally manufactured Holden Cruze being built on the same line as the Commodore, but with the shrinking large car market there needs to be exports.

      It doesn’t help that in a climate where fuel costs are volatile and don’t look to drop any time soon, Holden’s magical fix for convincing Aussie families to buy the Commodore again was chucking in a torqueless, unrefined 3.0 V6 SIDI, which only exacerbated the issues with the 3.6 V6 it replaced. Ford’s hopes are pinned on the new EcoBoost Falcon, which at least offers identical performance to the 4.0 I6 with far better fuel economy.

      As a life long supporter of Holden, I’m really hoping this isn’t just lazy journalism from Drive.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I could see people in the US shelling out between 40-50K for a real car such as these, everything nice is about in that price nowadays. But as pointed out it would not be a high volume model… maybe they’ll even throw us arrowhead lovers a bone and offer an aftermarket ‘pontiac’ package.

  • avatar
    pb35

    Too late, I already bought my Charger. Would love to see a ute, though. See, not purchase.

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    I’ll take my 2014 El Camino in bright red, please, 2-door, with a manual transmission and a V8.

    (this is the part where I find out that this will cost me something crazy like $40K).

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Well a fully loaded G8 GXP was $40,000 back in 2009 and you better believe none of them sold for a “steep GM discount.”

      Considering similar interior size and performance would cost you around $80K, the car was a screaming bargain. That’s why over three years later they are selling for an average of about $33K used.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    With the Aussie dollar near parity with the US dollar, this can’t possibly make financial sense.

    I have to wonder whether there is some other agenda lurking here. For example, are the Aussies going to throw some subsidies at GM in order to make this happen? Is this a project that is engineered to fail, which can be later use to justify a shutdown? Or is it just a desperate hail mary by the locals in an effort to stay relevant?

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      Mark Reuss has championed his Aussie vehicles ever since he came back to the US. Just like the police interceptor, the currency exchange makes this a terrible business decision.

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      The AUS govt gave Holden $275 million if Holden would continue to sell and locally assemble large cars. Part of the deal would have been to expand locally Holden to international markets to increase production capacity. NA being the largest market for large, fuel thirsty cars, it makes a lot of sense to sell them here.

      This is most likely how the car is going to look like..

      http://i730.photobucket.com/albums/ww301/HSV_SV_90/Document-10.jpg

      Imagine that with a 312 HP V6 or a 426 HP V8 all for less than $30,000! BMW and Audi would be sweating if people bought cars based on the car’s merits and not the value a badge adds to it. But again most people don’t. If they did, BMW wouldn’t be selling $40,000 Corolla sized cars, with 230 HP and 200 lb ft torque.

      • 0 avatar
        Greg Locock

        How do you get to $30000 for a V8? The cheapest V6 they sell over here is $33000, admittedly there may be some taxes you don’t have to pay.

        At 30k it would be another loss leader for GM. Is that a good move?

  • avatar
    Michal

    Previously when the Commodore was exported to the USA as a Pontiac, local Australian buyers would grizzle at the USA version being _cheaper_ than the Commodore sold locally. That’s right, a special left hand drive version of the vehicle, transported across the Pacific, would be cheaper to buy in the USA than at an Adelaide dealership 5km from the factory. Taxes weren’t at fault for the difference, it’s just that local manufacturers and retailers still take the average Australian to be a sucker who will happily pay more than anyone else.

    Fortunately the situation is changing in the retail sector with customers voting with their wallets and buying online. Cue much whinging and wailing from bricks ‘n mortar stores. Now, if only we could buy cars online from the USA…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’ll take a SS Performance Sportwagon please, dark green with tan interior, LS3 and a 6-speed manual. If equipped right would pony up $40Kish with a smile on my face.

    • 0 avatar
      Sundowner

      US customers pay that and more for BMW 3 series wagons, M-B E Classe wagons, Audi wagons, and Caddy Wagons. Will it have the ‘premium’ brand affiliation? no, but it’s cheaper, and plenty of people buy Mustang GT’s instead of 335i coupes.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        And don’t forget, this would be around the size of a 5-series. Interior room and comfort is one of the Holden’s strong suits. Now that GM isn’t going bankrupt (like when the G8 came over here) maybe they can invest some more $$$ into the interior bits. Not that the G8 interior is bad or cheap, but had GM spent some more money there it would have been an even sweeter package.

        The Zeta platform is one of the best RWD fullsize premium architectures on the planet. The Aussie got damn near everything right.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        “Not that the G8 interior is bad or cheap, but had GM spent some more money there it would have been an even sweeter package.”

        The G8 interior was subpar. The dash, seats, the silly display high on the dash, the Blaupunkt (!) stereo with a screen but no nav.

        The performance and exterior design of the car was let down by a boring, cheap interior.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @jkross22

        Oh please, the interior was not “subpar.” The interior of the Grand Prix and Bonneville it replaced was “subpar.”

        The gauges in the ’08 were eliminated in the ’09 models. In Australia there is a wide range of options including a triple digital gauge that looked far better than the “Atari” setup the US got and a whole range of analog gauge options – both from Holden and HSV.

        As far as no navigation that was a function of the NHTSA not a decision from General Motors. The screen is too low by NHTSA safety standards to be equipped with navigation (damn government overlord nannies) and so to provide navigation (available in almost every other global geography during those model years) would require completely redesigning the interior.

        Where GM could have stepped it up was going with analog gauges on the top deck, instead of the Atari style. The stereo itself could be better with at least an upgrade option (there are options in Australia from both Holden and Walkenshaw Performance), incrementally better leather (nothing really wrong with the leather) and some softer touch plastics. If GM had spent say another $250 to $500 per unit on interior quality they probably could have commanded another $2,500 in sticker price.

        These cars have been around a minimum of three years now and their interiors have held up very well. Good luck finding even a stripper G8 GT from 2008 with high miles for under $20K that doesn’t have a salvage title.

  • avatar
    alluster

    I am all for Holdens sold in NA. They design the best looking cars within GM. The HSV E2 has to be the sexiest 4 door ever made. GM will obviously f everything up by installing the Chevy corporate grille. I wish they just do a Holden badge delete, replace with Chevy badge and call it a day.

    This move would have made sense 5 years ago. GM now has a very nice lightweight RWD platform underpinning the ATS(At 3300 lbs is lighter than most midsize sedans). The Chevy version, minus ATS’s bells and whistles would easily weigh less than 3000 lbs, not to mention built and shipped cheaply if produced in Canada or Mexico. The Aus Dollar is too high and the shipping costs too expensive for the Chevy version to be reasonably priced.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The Chevy version would likely be heavier since it doesn’t have the budget for all the aluminum control arms and magnesium pushrods.

      At any rate, Zeta is pretty much a dead duck by now. Too big and too heavy and too old. Any future RWD product would likely be based on a decontented ATS platform built locally, except maybe some specialty stuff like the Utes.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    Utes? Not this old chestnut again.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The Aussie press is predicting a production run of 9,000 to 10,000 units annually and the US version having something even more powerful than the G8 GXP under the hood like the LSA engine.

    They are reporting the current line produced a hair over 90,000 cars last year, and optimized production figures is 100,000 a year. ASS-U-ME(ing) that global production to other geographies hold steady, the capacity to support the US is thin – about 9K.

    It’s all pure speculation. They are thinking LSA or something of that sort under the hood because if they went LS3, L92, L76, or even smaller (3.6L V6) there won’t be anything very “limited” about it.

    The downside is a LSA version is definitely giving two middle fingers to CAFE and would certainly have a significant gas guzzler tax attached, along with the senseless whining about poor fuel economy out of a 550+ HP 4,000 pound sedan.

    If their speculation is right, for the sedan you’re talking a sub 4.0 second car 0 to 60 and the quarter in 11.4 seconds. If you benchmark from the G8 GT/GXP you’ll have lateral acceleration around .9 Gs. That would be one impressive Chevy sedan.

  • avatar

    Once again we face this dilemma. How do you get someone in the market for a powerful, comfortable $40K car to consider so much as driving past a, then Pontiac now Chevy, dealer? How many 2015 El Caminos can they move at … what? … 30K? more?

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      I see your point in the marketing of said Holden… perhaps they will have a few stocked at all GM dealers? Hehe of course the Caddy dealers wouldn’t like it in their showrooms as it will put the Catera to shame :)

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Holden doesn’t have the capacity is Adelaide to build 30K units for US export. They have shifted some product for the Aussie version of the Cruze. They can build about 100K Zetas a year – right now they are building 90K.

      This isn’t about selling volume, this is a halo car.

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        @APaGttH

        I would love to know where are you taking your numbers from. From what I’ve heard, yours are utter non-sense.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @Athos Noble

        Thank you so much for your respectful, informative post.

        http://www.themotorreport.com.au/54156/ss-chevrolet-commodore-exports-returning-to-us-market-in-2013

        …Both Holden and GM US are tight-lipped at the moment on sales projections and volumes for the new car.

        However, Holden Product Communications Manager Kate Lonsdale said that the export program “is expected to fit within the current production capabilities and plant capacity” at GM Holden’s SA Elizabeth plant, and with no changes to current shifts.

        Earlier this year, in a media teleconference announcing shift changes at Holden’s Adelaide facility, Holden boss Mike Devereux commented that, in line with best-practice high-volume plants in other markets, optimum production capacity at the Adelaide plant is around 100,000 units annually.

        Holden built 90,424 cars in 2011,…

        Further questions can be directed to Kate Lonsdale in Australia.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Hypnotoad: Don’t the Aussies build the big Chevys for South Africa and the Middle East, too?

        Isn’t that where the SA and ME Chevy Lumina comes from? Or do these markets have local production for the big cars that I’m forgetting/not aware of?

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @geozinger

        To the best of my knowledge, all 4-door Zeta production is in Australia. Last year, the global production number was, sadly, only 91K units.

        I am not 100% sure if the Chinese Buick Park Avenue is made in Australia or China.

        Large V8 sedan sales in Australia are plummeting due to the high costs of the cars themselves (a SS V-Series Special Edition can push $57K AUD) and the cost of fuel. Australian buyers are moving more toward smaller models, and the Holden Cruze is well received (something like 60% of Holden sales last month!). Tradesmen will continue to buy the Ute – but just as the Panther became a relic of a bygone era, Zeta appears to be headed the same way.

        I find huge irony that North America is the only continent where you cannot buy a 4-door Zeta car today.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      In the midst of a looming bk and the Pontiac division shuttered, it seemed that there wasn’t much difficulty selling the G8. It was a very good car.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    So if this actually goes down as planned, will we have Lutz to thank?

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    I’ll take a Ute SS please, black (or Charcoal Gray) w/6.2L. 6 speed.

    See: Pontiac G8 Sport Truck…

  • avatar

    I fail to see how the world is overrun by Chargers and 300s, but GM can’t make a RWD volume seller work.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    @Derek,

    “– including the sedan, wagon, Ute and long-wheelbase versions, could be built in North America.”

    Please make some following on this topic. IIRC from around 1-2 weeks ago, that rumor originated in C&D and was echoed down here.

    Edit: ;-) http://tinyurl.com/7kz34p9

  • avatar
    CougarXR7

    It’s about freaking time.

    It’s time GM management pulled their heads out of their collective asses and realize that not everyone wants a V6 and front wheel drive.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    More validation of the GM bailout
    Jobs for Australia . Meanwhile , see previous article, Subaru is investing in America .

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I would buy one providing GM guarantees it will sell them in North America for at least 10-years. I wouldn’t want to be left with an orphan a couple of years after purchase like Pontiac G8 owners.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      There will be Pontiac parts for the next several decades.. if not longer considering just about all GM parts are from the corporate bin.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Ya, because LS engine parts and Cadillac transmissions are sooooooooooooo hard to come by.

      It’s all off-the shelf parts, if anything, parts availability has improved under the “new” GM then with the “old” GM.

      APaGttH

      – Love my G8

  • avatar
    Robert Gordon

    “Australia’s Drive, an auto publication affiliated with the Sydney Morning Herald”

    That’s one way to describe a 4 page scummy dropout, from an even scummier Murdoch rag that features 3 pages of adverts and one page of hyperbolic and poorly researched ‘news’.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Can I have 1 wagon please with a 6 speed manual?

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    I only hope that GM doesn’t f3ck this up. I want GM to once again be the best car company there is. But their strategic decisions over the past few decades isn’t encouraging. And their RECENT decisions have been no better.

  • avatar
    grinchsmate

    Just pointing out this is the upcoming VF not the VE. the VF is expected to have new bumpers, new wheel arches, some aluminium and new electrics. Apparently 10% better fuel economy at 8L/100km.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Despite Ford’s opinion the contrary, Americans do want their large family sedan’s with RWD.

    Chargers sell. 300’s sell. Why won’t Chevy RWD sedans sell?

    A Chevy version of the Magnum wagon would be cool–even if driving one around these parts guarantees you’re running Oxy to Kentucky.

  • avatar
    Ben

    Dear North American Friends.
    We, the people of the Great Land Down Under, have decided to share with you one of our RWD, V8 powered, sports saloons which pound for pound delivers the best bang for buck in the world.

    We would really appreciate it if this time you put your money where your mouth is and actually buy some of them this time, otherwise…. NO EL CAMINO FOR YOU!

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      @Ben

      We, the people of the Great America, the handful of us who bought the 30,000 or so G8s that made it to the United States, thank the people from Great Land Down Under for your amazing cars.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        I test drove a G8 and thought it was fantastic. The interior quality is a bit sketchy but whatever. Fantastic car.

      • 0 avatar
        Ben

        People of the Great America, we are now thinking about sending you ls3 powered wagon. Buy more Holdens.

        http://www.themotorreport.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/2009-hsv-clubsportr8-tourer-roadtestreview-04-thumb.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      Honestly I’d rather they import left hand drive Holdens here, AS Holdens then rebadge Opels as Saturn/Buick/Cadillacs. I’ve heard the Holden Cruze is the cat’s tats in comparison with the sister versions, maybe our Aussie brothers could whip up a stylish convertible and sell it in Chevy dealers here in the States, again as a Holden. I would so much rather see Holdens as imports in GM’s lineup than the Daewoo circus they have going on anymore.

  • avatar
    siuol11.2

    Just bring back the G8, and a smaller, more efficient G8 sibling.
    Don’t let GM America get their paws on it- no sheet metal ‘tweaks’, no stupid gimmicks, no bottom-of-the-barrel parts.


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