It's Official: The Chevrolet Brand Is Returning to Australia

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
its official the chevrolet brand is returning to australia

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.”

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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2 of 17 comments
  • Ghostwhowalksnz Ghostwhowalksnz on Dec 08, 2017

    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.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Dec 09, 2017

    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.

  • Bobbysirhan I fully expect to be reading about the last-of-the-line Challenger Demon 170 Redeye Widebody three years from now.
  • Dougjp Finally, luxury/strong performance in a compact size car. Unlike the Civic R, the market for this segment has predominantly automatics buyers. Yet year after year, it appears Acura can't make such a car. They did have a 10 speed with torque (Accord), which counters the thought that they can't make a torque capable automatic.Oh well, look elsewhere I guess.
  • Analoggrotto The real question, how many years or months after the end of production will this vehicle be completely eliminated from the street? Neon lights, yellow spoiler covers, idiotic stripes, brazzers license plate frames, obnoxious exhausts and all.
  • Mike1041 Why buy a German car in the first place? You will get to know the service manager real well and you will be denied claims because “we make no mistakes in the Fatherland”.
  • Art Vandelay This thing has had a longer send off than The Rolling Stones