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by Jez Spinks

Export sales of the Holden Commodore to the United States could be less than 2000, according to the marketing manager responsible for the model that will become the Chevrolet SS.

Holden insiders told CarAdvice last year it was planning to ship a few thousand Commodores to North America annually and admitted it was only “a limited production derivative”, but Chevrolet has revealed only 900 SS models will be shipped initially from Australia for the December on-sale.

The company’s marketing manager for performance cars that include the Chevrolet SS (pictured), Corvette and Camaro, John Fitzpatrick, agreed 1700-2000 SS sales would be sufficient to deem the model a success when asked by Edmunds.com.

“If you look at [the SS’s] competitors, it’s going up against the Dodge Charger SRT8, the Chrysler 300 SRT8 and the Ford Taurus SHO,” he told Edmunds. “If you look at how many cars are in that segment, it is only about 3,000-5,000 cars for the entire calendar year.

“We don’t have expectations that the car is going to set up a whole new segment but we do expect to do very well against those competitors,” Fitzpatrick said. He was interviewed at a press event in California.”

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About half of the US brand’s 3000 dealers will sell the rebadged Commodore which goes on sale in December, becoming the first V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive Chevy in 16 years.

Priority being given to those already selling fellow niche models the Corvette and the Camaro that’s based on Commodore underpinnings.

Fitzpatrick said about 900 Chevrolet SS models would be on the first shipment from Holden.

The news isn’t ideal for Holden after Tony Abbott, prior to being elected prime minister, said it was vital the local car maker established a credible export program if the Coalition government were to consider further financial assistance.

“We would certainly be prepared to look at further generous assistance but we’d want to make sure, and this is very important, that Holden had credible plans to reduce their cost of production and to boost their volumes and the only way to boost their volumes is to have a serious export strategy,” Abbot said.

Holden’s previous export program to the US was much more ambitious, with a planned 30,000 annual volume for the last-generation Commodore that became a rebadged Pontiac called the G8 in 2008.

The program ended prematurely, however, when General Motors axed the Pontiac brand in early 2009.