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Holden key to RHD Chevy Camaro

– Story by David Twomey, photography by Paul Maric.

A decision by GM Holden to import the Chevrolet Camaro, shown in production ready form in Melbourne earlier this week, is the lynchpin for the decision to go ahead with a right-hand drive version of the US sports car.

Speaking with CarAdvice at the reveal of the Chevrolet Camaro, Greg Stefanyshyn, GM’s Global Vehicle Line Executive, who’s spent the past two years in Australia shepherding the project said Australia was crucial to any decision to build a right-hand drive version of the Camaro.

“If we don’t get Holden support for RHD then it won’t happen, it’s as simple as that,” Mr Stefanyshyn told CarAdvice.

Chevrolet Camaro Launch

He added that the decision would be made within the next two months and said he doubted the other RHD markets around the world would have the numbers to influence a decision without Australia.

Asked what sort of numbers General Motors needed to support a RHD program he said, based on work done before the current oil-price surge, the company needed to build about 4000 vehicles a year.

When we suggested that GM Holden shouldn’t have too much trouble selling half that number in Australia he said it agreed with empirical evidence from other sources.

Chevrolet Camaro Launch Chevrolet Camaro Launch

“But we do need to sit down and crunch the numbers and get a handle on just how many cars the Premium Channel thinks it can sell here.”

The Car would be sold in Australia as a Chevrolet and as such would come under the marketing control of GM Premium Channel, the division that handles brands such as Saab, Hummer and Cadillac.

It’s no secret that the Camaro, engineered in Australia but to be built in Canada and primarily sold in the US, is based on a shortened and modified Zeta platform, the underpinnings of the VE Commodore and has been engineered from the start to be built in either left-hand or right-hand drive.

Chevrolet Camaro Launch

“The main decisions we need to make is whether we go out and buy the bits needed to build it in right-hand drive, it’s already completely engineered for it,” Mr Stefanyshyn said.

The UK market is the next biggest potential market after Australia and Vauxhall has already demonstrated that there is a steady market for Monaro and re-branded HSV models in Britain.

Although it was never seriously marketed there enthusiasts would have strong memories of the iconic ‘60s and ‘70s Camaros and would most likely support the vehicle.

Chevrolet Camaro Launch

The big challenge is rising fuel prices and the growing pressures against high-carbon emitting vehicles in Europe, which is sure to limit the appeal of the Camaro over its model life.

South Africa, Japan and then a string of very minor markets make up the rest of the right-hand driving world.

Mr Stefanyshyn and his team really want the Australian motoring public to show a lead and decide whether the Camaro will make it here as the first factory imported Chevrolet since the BelAir in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

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