Holden may follow Ford Australia’s lead in offering right-hand-drive versions of its parent company’s iconic US-built muscle cars, including the Camaro and Corvette, to fill the hole created by the loss of its homegrown sports models when local production ceases in 2017.
General Motors North America president and former Holden boss Mark Reuss told Australian media overnight the US-based automotive giant hoped to engineer right-hand-drive versions of all of its vehicles in the future, significantly expanding the range of vehicles available to Holden.
Vehicles currently produced exclusively in left-hand drive include the Chevrolet Camaro sports car, Corvette supercar, and a range of SUVs and utes much larger than Holden’s current Captiva and Colorado models. Reuss would not be drawn on which vehicles could be sold in Australia, revealing only that “everything from now on we’re trying to do right-hand-drive”.
The next-generation Camaro seems the best fit for the local range. The compact two-door sports car would help fill the void left by V8-powered versions of the Commodore and give Holden a direct rival for the new Mustang, which Ford will launch in Australia in late 2015.
The global financial crisis quashed Holden’s most recent attempt to secure a right-hand-drive version of the locally engineered Camaro, though the Australian division is believed to be in a stronger position this time around – Reuss and outgoing boss Mike Devereux hold influential positions within GM, and the showroom in desperate need of a post-Commodore hero car.
Meanwhile, Holden has ruled out South Australian premier Jay Weatherill’s suggestion that a rival car maker could take over the Holden name and its local manufacturing operations from 2018.
Weatherill told reporters that he had spoken to “high-end” overseas automotive manufacturers about taking over Holden and its South Australian facilities and workforce in an attempt to rescue the local industry.
“It may be that a particular car manufacturer might want to set up here but use the equity that’s in the Holden brand to continue making cars,” Weatherill said.
“That’s obviously something that’s the property of General Motors at the moment and, presumably, they have an interest in keeping it because it has value for them. But that is something that we would want to advance in any discussions with Holden.
“There’s a workforce, there is a plant, there is a well-known and large brand, so the raw materials are there – obviously it would be a different operation, and the sort of thing we have in mind is the smaller, high-value vehicles. There are companies around the world that specialise in short-run, high-value vehicles where the cost element becomes a less important part of the equation.”
But GM has poured cold water on the suggestion, insisting: “We are 100 per cent committed to the Holden brand and we intend to be selling Holden cars in Australia for many, many years”.