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by Jez Spinks

The return of the Holden Commodore to the North American showroom market has been officially confirmed, with the Australian-built large car to transform into a Chevrolet SS in late 2013.

Holden’s announcement follows weeks of speculation and CarAdvice’s exclusive report last week that the confirmation of the export program was imminent.

The Chevrolet SS performance sedan will be based on the next-generation Holden VF Commodore that will go on sale in Australia in 2013, at some point before the US version reaches showrooms.

It will be the first time in 17 years that Chevrolet has offered a rear-wheel-drive performance car in the North American market. It’s almost definite it will get a V8 engine.

Holden is not yet willing to divulge exact export numbers but has admitted it will be less than the previous Commodore export program of 2008. A 30,000 annual volume was planned for a Pontiac G8 model that was a rebadged version of the current VE model, before the program came to a premature end in early 2009 after General Motors axed the Pontiac brand.

CarAdvice understands the export program involves a few thousand units, though Holden does describe the Chevrolet SS as a “limited production derivative”.

“This is a real niche opportunity for us, and we’ll leave it at that,” said Greg Tyus, Holden’s executive director of engineering. “We know what we’re projecting [for Chevrolet SS numbers] and that we can meet that [demand].”

The Chevrolet SS will become the latest model to be based on the Commodore’s ‘Zeta’ platform, which underpins the current Commodore that was introduced in 2006 and will be slightly modified for the new VF generation.

It follows the aforementioned Pontiac G8, the Chevrolet Camaro muscle car and a police car called the Chevrolet Caprice PPV.

The Chevrolet Caprice PPV (pictured below) has struggled to gain traction with police forces in the US, but Holden says it expects US consumers to embrace the new Chevrolet SS.

“I think the US has come to know us [Holden],” says Tyus. “We’re respected for the Camaro, which is well beloved, and we’re known for rear-wheel-drive performance sedans.

“I think the Chevrolet SS and Chevrolet PPV are two different models. This is a premium, high-spec vehicle. The PPV is more for jurisdiction and they [the police forces] have to look at budget.

“We understood it would take time [for the PPV to penetrate the police car market]. They are quite loyal to the current vehicles.

“If you look at the interest generated by the [Pontiac] G8, it is clear there is a clambering for this type of vehicle [in the US]. And we were given an opportunity to provide a car [Chevrolet] needed.

“Only time will tell if this [export program] will grow into something bigger.”

Holden also confirmed expectations that the Chevrolet SS will form the basis for the US brand’s new NASCAR race car challenger – pictured below the main image top in prototype disguise.

Chevrolet’s March announcement that it would feature a new nameplate in its world-famous homegrown motorsport series first started speculation linking the Commodore to a US return.

Holden said discussions with Chevrolet were currently focused on the sedan version of the Commodore only, but would neither confirm nor deny whether the four-door could be joined by wagon and ute variants.

CarAdvice believes, however, that these are unlikely, at least in the short term, despite previous plans for the Commodore Ute to be exported to the US as a Pontiac G8 ST sports truck.

Holden says parent company General Motors wasn’t placed under any pressure by the federal government to arrange an export deal as part of a $275 million co-investment package announced in March.

General Motors Holden is committing $1 billion to local manufacturing of two all-new vehicles to at least 2022, though the future of a homegrown Holden large car isn’t secure beyond 2018, the expected lifecycle of the new VF model, despite the Chevrolet SS announcement.

Holden has said only that it will build two models locally based on global platforms from 2015 but is not expected to confirm what type of vehicles they will be for some time.


One is certain to be the next-generation Holden Cruze small car, which is currently built alongside the Commodore at the local car maker’s Elizabeth plant in Adelaide (above).

Holden seems to be keeping its options open for the second model, however, as the sales trend for large cars continues a dramatic decline in Australia.

Holden Commodore sales fell 12 per cent in 2011, allowing the Mazda3 to end the large car’s 15-year run as Australia’s best-selling car. Figures for 2012 so far reveal the Commodore has dropped 23 per cent compared to April 2011.

The Holden is faring significantly better than its traditional rival, however, the Ford Falcon – by 10,596 to 4407 so far in 2012.

  • Cody

    Yeah but small cars are cheap.. Compared to SV6

    • Bigj

      Yeah, These days, a lot of people cannot afford to dish out around 35-40k on a new commodore, when a say mazda 3 is almost half price. Thats another factor contributing to dropping sales :/

      • BP

        A Mazda 3 can cost up to 35K anyway, who would pay that?

        • RailinG

          We paid 36K drive away for a new Voodoo blue Sportwagon SV6 Auto with reverse camera + GPS for a family car last year. Nothing came close in terms of looks, size and value. Was originally looking for a mid sized car (mondeo,optima & others) but once we drove the SV6 it was a no brainer for that price

          • Big George

             The problem with the Mazda 3 or 6 for that matter is that it cannot fit 3 car seats in the back. As I refuse to buy an SUV the Commodore fits the bill perfectly.

  • Karl Sass

    This is great news for the local industry, hopefully it does well.

    • Noel

      I think American’s (unlike Australian’s) are very patriotic, hence GM’s issues with trying to sell 1,000’s of police cars.  It’s a double edge sword, if it sells well, the Commodore production will go to the States and if it doesn’t the Commodore production won’t survive here either.  The silver lining though (as mentioned down below) when they stop making the Commodore here, it will free up production capacity for something more relevant. 

      • Phil

        Americans buy $billions worth of Chinese made electronics.
        All their Apple products are made in China.
        Japanese brands made up most car sales in USA.

        As consumers we are just as patriotic as Americans.

        • Karl Sass

          There was a study done that estimated if an iPod (or iPhone?) was made in America, it would cost $15k.
          You can’t buy American electronics, and many of those Japanese cars are made in America anyway.

      • Karl Sass

        Noel, even if production went state side, it’s actually not that bad.
        A version of the caprice is already made in China, and if that was the case for America too, the business case for developing the next generation Commodore would look much better because more vehicles will be utilising that platform.
        Time will tell..

        • G

          Yeah if GM can be convinced to be a global car then the RHD can be made in AU and the LHD in US and no one suffers really. 

      • http://jackyan.com Jack Yan

        There’s also the problem that some police forces have it written into their rules that they have to buy US-made. So the Caprice could only ever get a limited share of cop car sales over there.

      • Trub

        Silver lining ? Commodore not relevent? Apparently our journalists here in america know nothing about cars because we heralded it as an accomplisment in design and performance that hasnt been seen for quite some time. Love australian cars.

  • Shak

    I was wondering when CA was going to get around to posting this news up. Better late then never though.

    On another note, the goods news for GMH just keeps on coming. All the doubters and haters will regardless sling their drivel, but facts are facts. GMH is here for the long haul, and so is the Commodore for at least another six years. People around the world can see what great products we make, and yet many Aussies seem to lack the same vision. Holden make a bloody good car in the Commdore and it’s strengths are once again being recognised, this time by one of the largest markets on earth. Go Holden!

    • Phil

      Even GMH admitted this export deal was for a “niche opportunity” and a “limited production derivative”.

      What do you mean people around the world can see what great products we make? No one buys any of our products in any great numbers (except for raw natural resources).

      • Dave S

        It’s a niche product so they can charge more for it. No point in sending it all the way to the US just so it can try to compete with the Camry or Accord. A premium sports model, why sell it for any less than you have to?

      • Shak

        My point was that GM chose to use the Commodore instead of getting Chevrolet or another brand to make a new car. Yes its probably because it was less costly, but the fact that they also chose to build such an iconic car as the Camaro off of the Commodore platform, shows that GM recognises we do damned good RWD cars, and they are happy to point it out!

    • Sebastian, Style Messiah

      I think the Commodore is a standout car too… Only issue for me is that it is too big. Case in point, darling why don’t we buy a Sportwagon for you to ferry the kids in? No way will I drive a big boofy blokes car like this.

      I really think a more compact VE should have been produced along with highly efficient drivetrains. The concept of the VB Commodore was right… Just 30 years too early.

      • Roadtard

        The Mrs won’t drive a “big boofy blokes car” but she’ll happily haul the kids around in a faux-wheel-drive, urban warrior style…?

        The Commodore’s too big argument just doesn’t compute.  Fact is people just want the trendy option.

        • Sydlocal

          Roadtard, Sebastian does have a point when you look at the raw figures ie facts. The VE Commodore has a larger footprint (ie takes up MORE space) on the road than many popular (ie top selling) SUVs. These include the Ford Territory, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX7/5, Nissan Xtrail, Honda CR-V etc. This also includes the original BMW X5 and even the Toyota Prado with the Mitsubishi Pajero being around the same length but a little narrower. 
          The Kluger is shorter but 11mm wider with the Mazda CX9 being one of the few main-stream, popular non-4WD SUVs that actually take up more road space in both length and width.
          All of this is not using what my eye thinks is the largest, this is using manufacturer’s dimensions and basic maths. The facts are the facts. Weight and height are another thing though!

          • Frenchie

            Most of the vehicles mention are bigger (taller) and offer similar fuel economy and “footprint” if not worst than the Commdore (SV6) in a petrol version, some even take a higher RON fuel. In a diesel option though they are much lower.

          • Sydlocal

            Frenchie, I was NOT meaning carbon footprint, I was meaning physical footprint. ie dimensions as in length and width. Try reading it again, the bit in brackets in the second sentence gives it away! The thread from the OP was about the Commodore being “too big” for them and roadtard saying that it wasn’t compared to the SUVs people buy. I was just highlighting that the Commodore actually takes up more space ie “footprint”(you know, the original meaning of the word before we became all environmental) on the road than many popular SUVs. I don’t deny the POLLUTION footprint/economy etc argument you are making and would have agreed with you, but the thread wasn’t about that, it was about PHYSICAL size. 
            Now you mentioned it you would actually find that the pollution footprint (including particulates) on most of those diesel SUVs would be more than some Commodore models anyway, even though they are more economical!

        • Sebastian, Style Messiah

          Mate, the Missus also can’t deal the faux 4WDs either. A VB Commodore sized package would have been great.

          • Karl Sass

            Cruze? I agree though,  a mid sized Commodore would be a winner.

          • Sebastian, Style Messiah

            Cruise… Yuck, no thanks.

    • Jimg8

      l am with you on this one.
      I have a 2008 HSV GTS and l must say that l just love it.
      I have owned a variety of near new bmw’s , mercedes and 3x porsches and
      the holden holds up really well in comparison.
      It solid robust and really enjoyable to drive.
      Looking forward to greater cars from holden.

  • Sumpguard

       No commitment for a large car past 2018. That’s because if the VF doesn’t sell well or there isn’t a bounce back of the large car market in that time (unlikely) then it will be up to the all new rear drive Torana to take over as the commodore will be killed off or rather downsized and renamed.

    • Horsie

      a rwd totana would be awesome! remember the origional commodore was about the same size as a current cruze

      • Des

        Sorry but it’s just NOT gunna happen!

  • birdie

    why bother , everything they tryed selling in the past has been a flop , this wiil be no different . just like the 1,000’s of ppv’s they said they   were going to sell……………………..yeah right holden

    • AAA

      As the article states, the popo over there are very loyal to their current cars. Not to mention the dollar being so high, they also have to be shipped to the US, then fitted out with police gear. Its a bit of a job. I think the American Police forces have liked it so far…. Give it time. But as someone else posted, if the Americans end up loving our rear drive vehicles, they will soon be produced over there and shipped out here. The only reason the Pontiac deal fell over was that GM axed the brand. Willing to be corrected of course :)

      • Shak

        You’re right in saying that they do like our cars, but many departments are cash strapped, and the Caprice is one of the pricier options. Also the fact that many departments are reportedly still snapping up the last reserves of Crown Vics means that for many months PPV sales will be affected. Then again for Holden even these small numbers are a big boost to use some capacity at Elizabeth, so any profitable export is a good thing.

      • go holden!

         I believe some departments are required by state laws to be locally manufactured cars, so regardless of how good Caprice PPV is, they aren’t allowed to buy it.

        • Dave S

          we should have more laws like that here. Too many of our state government and public servants run around in expensive imports.

          • Sydlocal

            We used to have rules like this. The only way they could buy an import is if they required a car that was less than 2L in engine capacity or so once they stopped building the Corolla here. Before then councils etc had to state a reason why they wished to purchase an imported car. All this is IIRC though and don’t take it as gospel. It is just something I heard on the grapevine. Now we have the Cruze and Camry Hybrid etc being built here that rule should be brought back as all bases are covered for departments that just require a basic sedan/hatch.

          • Adelaide_john

            In the SA public service the push is to lease the Cruze.  My area has 7 with another 2 on their way.  They’ve replaced Camry’s and Falcons and a Commodore !

  • Car2012

    It is great news that Holden will be exporting the Commodore to the USA, but it is annoying that Australian Government subsibies will enable a vehicle similar to the SS-V to be probably sold in the USA for about $30,000 whilst we pay above $50,000.

    • john

      $30k for this car is extremely expensive in the USA. Because of the high $ I think the price will be more like $35k. The top spec pontiac G8 sold for $35k at a time when the BMW 335i was $40k in the US. If the big unions in the US got out the way and let the Aus product come in at a realistic price, the G8 would have sold in bigger numbers. While $35k for us would be considered a bargain, in the USA it is a ripoff. A $100k car here is $40k there and for that money, no wonder why the 335i was chosen instead. Which car would you take if the difference is only $5k? Exactly not the Aus product!

      • Louis

        Obviously you havent got a Clue!! The MSP For a BASE Dodge Charger R/T (with is the std hemi not the SRT8 performance car – which is what the SS would be compared with, as the base R/T is TOO slow!!), is US $36,195.00. The comparable Cadillac performance sedan is US$64,000.!!! The SRT8 models are around US$45K. The Commodore will be a high spec niche vehicle, performance sedan, comparable with the German performance sedans but at 1/2 the price. You compare a BMW 3 series base model, to an SS performance car? The BM is Half the car, tiny inside and slow!!! And its still more expensive. The Chev SS will sell like hotcakes…expect the ute too, the Americans have been asking for that for a while now. 

        • Pete

          The BMW 335i is hardly a base model. In fact it is the top of the 3 series range. I have driven one, and I can tell you it is classy and very fast. In fact, the 335i won the Bathurst 12 hour Production car race twice.
          If you are going to comment, at least make sure you have a clue.

          • Louis

            Yeah you are right Pete. I just checked up a US road test of the 335i, Its a turbo 6, quite fast, AND its BASE price is US$43,295.!! The test car at Motor Trend was US$55,870!!! Long way off Johns est. The Base model Taxi version (no options) 328i is US$34,900. With sport package option and others it is a $43K at least. Makes the GM SS performance car, even MORE of a bargain. :). 
            V8 owners and lovers, generally dont buy 4 cyl Euro cars anyway. And Dont forget Pete, John made the comparison, not me. Yes, I have a clue, do you? Do your research first b4 commenting thx!.

          • john

            My 335i only cost me $42995 with most options when I was over in the US 4 years ago. I am going by what I paid for it because dealers offer great deals in the US. Such a large market that you can get discounts on pretty much any car. I was talking from experience. Cheers!

          • Sydlocal

            For the V8 lovers the base price for an M3 is just under US$61k. 😉

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Jez Spinks

    Credit where credit’s due, Shak – if you click on the link in the second story you’ll see we reported this news a week before our main rivals who finally caught up this Wednesday, the day before the announcement. We also only published the official confirmation at 12.01am this morning to abide by an embargo designed to allow Chevrolet to release its news in the US at a time when the country is awake. But this is indeed some welcome good news for a local car industry that is enduring its fair amount of struggles. Rgs

    • Shak

      Fair enough Jez, sorry for the undue criticism, I’ve just been waiting for this news for a long time. Now that’s it’s official I’m much happier, not just for Holden but for our manufacturing future. From what I’ve discerned on forums overnight people really do want this car, but many are not happy with the name, and many think the styling will be too bland to warrant calling it a ‘performance sedan’ (ala Pontaic G8).

    • Bruce Simpson

       Yes, and you still managed to take an utterly irrelevant swipe at the Falcon which you seem to relish doing every chance you get.

  • Jack

    Great news for Holden, I hope it is a success for them.

  • DWS1

    This export order is great news for the workers at Holden. The Commodore is a great product for the money and made in Australia. They had to release the news release early, as Commodore sales were starting to slip now with speculation of a new model, which will hopefully be not to far away from getting into the showrooms for Holden’s sake.


    It will be the first time in 17 years that Chevrolet has offered a rear-wheel-drive performance car in the North American market”.

    In a tiny market like Aus we could afford to create 2 RWD platforms (Falc & Comm). But in the US where they sell zillions of car they can’t afford to have a single RWD platform. It’s not economy of scale. I reckon it’s all politics within the companies.

    • Dave S

      I think their CAFE regulations have a lot to answer for too.

      todays 6’s run much cleaner than old 4’s just because of regulation with emissions and improving standards. It’s not always about fuel consumption, sometimes it’s about tail pipe emmisions.

      Anybody who asks about: diesels options is forgetting about the diesel emmisions, not as clean as Petrol, LPG or E85.

  • Crummydore

    Its good news, and  its all linked to the recent get together of SA & Federal pollies and GM execs.

    They had to nut out a ‘feel good’ story to keep the whingers at bay over the cash injection to the industry.

    The export program is small, but welcome regardless – wont be around for long though as the Aust dollar is expected to start heading north again.

    Who would really want to be an exec in the Australian motor industry right now? – crazy times!

  • Mel

    As long as the VF Commodore’s A-pillars are slimmed down (compared to the dangerously thick pillars in the VE) I will buy one. 


      A thinner A pillar is much more dangerous than a thick one if it’s weaker than the thick pillar.

      • Sydlocal

        Only if you roll it. It is more dangerous for driver visibility making it more difficult to try and avoid an accident in the first place. Then again people should stop being so lazy and just move their heads around! 😉

      • JEKYL & HYDE

        sorry, but that ‘s just plain wrong.a thinner (but just as strong) pillar could be made for ve,its just got to be made from stronger metal (more cost).see the problem?…

    • Adelaide_john

      Unlikely to be thinner as the VF will be a cosmetic upgrade to the Commodore, not a structural one
      But I would rather have thh thicker and SAFER pillar

      • Sumpguard

           Trust me you get used to it. The pillars in my Sportage are quite thick and it took a little time to adjust to them but I’m glad they are there.

      • Karl Sass

        Not necessarily, the VX had a redesigned B-pillar from the VT, so it is possible.
        Despite the A pillar being fairly big in the VE I have no troubles seeing around it. Although at one stage, the person I was sharing the driving with almost hit a pedestrian because of it.

  • jg

    Hopefully lots of those commodore sales go to the Falcon now since the Ecoboost and EcoLPI are superior offerings to the commodore equivalents.  Not to mention the XR6 Turbo with the ZF 6-spd!!!

  • JJ

    Sales should go well. Americans are dumb enough to buy one.

    • Legnab

      And watch the sales of bowtie badges skyrocket , every crummer will have one .

    • Dave S

      What’s dumb about wanting a large family sized sports sedan? Just because you have a family does not mean you are not allowed to enjoy motoring.

    • Roadtard

      JJ, What, dumb enough to buy a properly balanced RWD car over a nose-heavy torque steerer?

      Sorry, I forgot, those foreign alternatives have more soft-touch plastic inside.  Pfft!

      • Legnab

        Ancient, heavy, uneconomical ,old tec , will sell to the dumb yanks , wont last as the world is all about small fuel miser cars these days , and even the stupid americans are starting to realise oil is finite and getting dearer , man they are even buying diesels .

        The world is moving more and more to sweet handling FWD  turbo powered fuel misers with no hard , yuk interiors .

        • Barry

          Nice try Legnab.The only negative to this story is Sportswagon+Sports ute are not available at the moment.
          If the Commodore was that bad why does America want them????
          Well done Holden,hope our currancy devalues back to historical levels.

          • Legnab

            Because GM has to justify its subsidies from the govt to appease the unions , we give money, show us some results , it will end up in the mire just  like the pontiac fiasco .

            The tradies  will be able to line up for cheap chevy fronts  and bow tie badges like last time .

            Most will be on tray tops within 12 months .

          • Barry

            The GFC ended the so called pontiac fiasco.
            Tradies in America will be lining up to get behind the wheel of this rear wheel drive beast.So will white collar workers.
            The auto electrical faults and a/c problems are now a distant memory in the VE.Bit likeTHE TWINCHARGERS ha,ha,ha,ha,aha.

          • Legnab

            WHO MENTIONED VE  elec faults , not me , must be playing on your mind , i do remember reps telling me about the problems with a/c on hot days and battery melt downs , buy hey cummerdores are fault free thats what the legends are , nah cant be right sales keep dropping lower and lower .

          • Phil

            Pontiac Crummer was selling poorly in the USA before the GFC started. Most models survived through the GFC in the USA, funny that the Crummer that you claim has people lining up for couldn’t survive.

            Even GMH’s CEO admits this this Chevrolet SS program is only a “niche opportunity” and a “limited production derivative”.

          • Frenchie

            The G8 was Pontiacs second best seller after the G6!
            The GXP G8 was the 6.2 litre almost sold out even before the left the factory floor, 2000 were approximatley produced.

          • Barry

            Stop being so negative Phil.If the punters like it they will buy it.Then they will send more over and add the ute and Sportswagen.

          • Phil

            Frenchie, it doesn’t matter which models was Pontiac’s best seller, the entire brand was unprofitable, thats why it was axed!
            If the G8 was a success it never would’ve been discontinued. It clearly never sold enough numbers to be viable.

            This time around it may possibly do a little better but even the GM execs admit it’s just a limited run. The main intention is probably just to generate a little publicity and inject some excitement into the USA reputation of the brand.

            The idea that this will be some kind of big seller is a joke. American’s don’t buy “muscle cars” or big RWD cars in huge numbers.
            The average American made the choice in the 90s – keep buying huge RWD V8 yank tanks that were on offer or buy efficient medium sized FWD 4 cylinder cars that were on sale at the same time. The results are plain to see – everyone switched over to FWD medium/small cars – mainly 4 cylinder/some 6s mixed in with 4WD “pickups”.
            Anyone who’s actually been to the USA will see the roads dominated by Craprys, Avalons, Civics, Corollas, Accords, “SUV”s and “pickup”s. Very very few large RWD sedans to be seen.

  • D987

    The first bit of good news about the struggling Australian automotive industry in a long time.

    • Gtrxu1

      Good point D987.Just shows the quality of the Commodore..

  • Memfisman

    yank view here:  I bought a Pontiac G8 three years ago.  Love it! (except the tranny shifts into 6th too early).  I’m chuffed there will be a Chevy SS to replace it with when I’m ready.

    • Sumpguard

         Nice to hear a stateside opinion first hand.

  • Gibz

    shame ford are too stupid to try sell the falcon over there…. people are screaming for xr6t and the pfvs on forums.

    but ford cant be assed to try sell them here, so why bother selling them in the states.

  • Frog

    Ah…Gotta love some of the things People say ! Um, Ford actually want to sell the Falcon Stateside and in other markets too. Thing is, Dearborn Michigan FoMoCo head office….We’ll they don’t want Ford Australia to do that. Why ? It just might take sales away from the Taurus. You may notice falcon isn’t selling well these days and the lack of advertising for it. Again that’s good old Dearborn Michigan calling the shots. They want the Falcon gone . Why ? So they can replace it with the front wheel drive Taurus as part of Fords one program. Same thing will happen to Commodore soon enough ! Who the hell is designing the front ends on Holden’s these days ? Those ghastly looking headlights on Cruze and Barina and the god awful grille’s on both those cars as well as Craptiva and now Commodore. When they start making the blue 202 inline 6 along with 3spd trimatic auto box and Glass headlights again with absolutely no computers on the damn thing, I might, just might consider a new car. So what’s Holden’s new slogan ? Footballs , Meat Pies, Kangaroo’s and Korean Cars ! Or is it Born in the USA ?

  • joni den

    yank view here:  I bought a Pontiac G8 three years ago.  Love it! (except the tranny shifts into 6th too early).  I’m chuffed there will be a Chevy SS to replace it with when I’m ready.
    <a href="

  • Yuknow

    I want Holden now!

  • saigon68Petrus Ky

    I want one. But if they are pricey, I’ll stick to buying the old ones and putting a bit in fixing them up. Love that El Camino ride and practical height. Don’t complain about people admiring the style either.