By on December 8, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS Australia - Image: Chevrolet

The bowtie badge is heading Down Under. As General Motors revamps its overseas presence — pulling out of some countries, ditching its Opel and Vauxhall subsidiaries — Australians can look forward to visiting a GM dealership with more than just the Holden brand on the sign.

Holden Special Vehicles (HSV), a performance sub-brand of GM’s Holden subsidiary, has struck a deal to convert and market left-hand-drive Chevrolet Camaros and Silverado Heavy Dutys for consumers suddenly starved of hot, rear-wheel-drive GM products.

These buyers should give thanks to Ford.

When the Blue Oval brought its current-generation Mustang to Australia, buyers rose to the challenge. It’s now the country’s best-selling sports car, and the brand’s second-best-selling vehicle. At the same time, Holden’s long-running Commodore sedan — a taught, V8-powered, rear-drive performance sedan known to Americans as the Chevrolet SS — bit the dust, leaving Holden with a stable of popular, if bland, rebadged Chevy products.

GM needed something to fill the gap and give Ford a worthwhile challenger. We told you in October that GM would not Holden-ify the Camaro, and the company kept its promise.

“We’re excited to re-introduce the Chevrolet brand to the Australian market as part of an expanded GM presence in Australia, in partnership with HSV,” said Mark Bernhard, Holden chairman and managing director, in a statement.

“As far as dealership branding is concerned, the existing HSV dealer network will be progressively updated to carry the Chevrolet ‘bow-tie’ logo and branding, as part of our new ‘dealership of the future’ program. The DNA of both of these vehicles is pure Chevrolet and we’re going to honour that.”

2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD - Image: GM

Aussie Camaros will dispense with the base turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Instead, only the V8 coupe model, specced in 2SS trim, will serve as a Mustang rival, Motoring reports. No convertible or supercharged variants in sight. It’s possible other Chevy models, including the Silverado 1500 and Corvette, could appear on Australia’s sunny shores.

While Australians will soon have more choice in their sporting automobiles, early buyers might face a long wait. HSV managing director Tim Jackson tells Motoring, “For 2018 we will be capacity constrained.” Ramp-up of conversion vehicles is a slow process, he explained, and the company wants to “ensure quality.”

Jackson admits the Mustang’s success hastened the decision to bring the Camaro across the Pacific. It “shows there’s space for another competitor in that space,” he said.

Camaro buyers can also expect to pay a premium over the Mustang. Pricing is expected to start around $80,000, a steep markup compared to the Mustang coupe’s $57,490 starting price.

The announcement of Chevy’s return coincides with the creation of a new HSV-branded vehicle, designed to fill some of the space left by the sub-brand’s favorite — and now departed — product, the Commodore. Enter the Colorado. The midsize pickup, sold under the Holden brand, becomes the Colorado SportCat (and SportCat+) after its trip through the HSV factory.

GM clearly feels HSV is the proper channel for inserting American offerings into the Australian marketplace. The company said the second crop of vehicles offered through HSV will include “world-class vehicles from across the GM global range that would not have otherwise been available through Australia and New Zealand.”

[Images: General Motors, Holden Special Vehicles]

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17 Comments on “It’s Official: The Chevrolet Brand Is Returning to Australia...”


  • avatar
    Heino

    LHD? BMW builds RHD in the US, is it that expensive?

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      GM would traditionally prefer not to tailor products to its markets, and instead rely on blaming dealers, regulations, and unfair competition for its failures.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Its not as simple as that. The vehicle pretty much has to be designed with RHD in mind from the start. Same with bringing RHD cars here as LHD. If it wasn’t designed that way to start with (an example being the Ford Falcon), its very difficult and expensive to convert.

      Yes, there are some aftermarket companies that have done it, but the result is often pretty terrible. Things don’t fit right, squeeks, rattles, odd-shaped pieces that look like they don’t belong.

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        It is normally only a significant problem if engine and drivetrain is offset to one side as Ford found with the 2001 era Mustang. A US-only practice?

        Otherwise you are typically only dealing with maybe shifting accessories. I think the issue that ‘prevented’ the Falcon from being built in LHD at one point was the shape of the intake manifold – hardly a show-stopper.

        This story is about yet another aftermarket company doing a conversion. The Camaro and Silverado can already be purchased here, although presumably HSV will be able to do a better job than the existing converters – but some have had a lot of experience. HSV are also cannabalising their Ram conversion business. The market for $100k+ pickups is not large.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Australia should of bitten the bullet long ago and convert the nation to LHD. The UAE has done this.

  • avatar
    SD 328I

    Australian auto taxes are high. Everything is expensive there.

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      Zero import tariff for goods from the USA. Prices quoted do include sales tax though which distorts the comparison to US MSRPs, and the luxury car tax where applicable. That one is definitely high on very expensive vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      SD,
      Come down for a visit. The world is global and Oz is considered a low taxing country. As a total of GDP, very similar to the US, less than Canuckistan.

      Where the US loses standard of living unnecessarily is extreme medical (incld pharma), high insurance, high land tax and higher supermarket/general retail (this is brand dependent.

      Housing is Australia’s downfall.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Australian dollar and US dollar are not equal. $57,490 AUD equates to about $43,000 US. Plus the aussie prices include taxes which US do not, and of course there is a difference between MSRP and actual selling price.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Mandalorian,
          Yeah, I think the US has a huge proprtion of working poor compared to us, but you have more higher paying jobs (proportionally).

          Your comment on recommended retail price is true. Even in Australia you can get a huge discount on vehicles, but sometimes you might not get exactly what you wanted.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I really wish the Holden Ute had made it to the States, first. It would have been marketed either as a Chevy or a Pontiac and could have kept that model alive, even if manufacturing had been moved to the States. GM, Ford, et al, are really missing out on a market that wants an affordable SMALL truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      There are dozens of us! Dozens!

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Believe me, in a population of 800,000,000 people, there are several tens of thousands who WANT a truly small truck and are currently driving sub-compact to mid-sized CUVs. That number could easily be in the hundreds of thousands if given a broad enough choice.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Ummmm…

          800,000,000 what?

          Aren’t there roughly 300 million Americans?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aye, you are correct; I mis-remembered the source of that number. Even so, it hardly affects the probable number of people wanting true, small, pickups. I still believe adding small pickups to the mix would bring pickups as a whole to the top of the automobile market since they’re not quite there right now. CUVs outnumber pickups… by nearly double. https://www.statista.com/statistics/276506/change-in-us-car-demand-by-vehicle-type/
            Take away some CUV sales with a smaller pickup and the pickup could become America’s most popular vehicle.

  • avatar
    ghostwhowalksnz

    The only sales tax is a value added tax called GST at 10%. There is a luxury car tax on top of that which is a crippling 33% for cars above $A75k for ‘fuel efficent’ vehicles and $A65k for others. As cars are dearer than US thats not a particularly high price point

    GM is seeing the potential of larger US trucks as Walkinshaw is now in that market selling RHD Ram trucks converted in Australia.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Cost of a LH to RH conversion is prohibative. Current Camaro’s are $80k AUD here. I don’t believe HSV can get near a Mustang at $45k AUD for the V8.

    The only HSV Rams are HD Cummins ones and they start at $120k AUD.

    Unless the US manufactures RHD vehicles, as the Mustang, US vehicles will remain an enthusiast toy.

    As for taxes. A 10% GST (similar to a US State tax) is levied on all vehicles unless you have a tax file number (business), in which you are exempt from the GST. The luxury car tax starts around/just above $70k AUD. I don’t mind this tax, because its levied on the money over $70k, not all and its all vehicles irrespective of origin.

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