- By DAVID TWOMEY
Announcing the export deal today in Melbourne the Chairman and Managing Director of GM Holden, Mr Mark Reuss, described the vehicle as a great addition to Holden’s export portfolio, demonstrating the company’s reach and flexibility.
Also on hand was the Federal Minister for Trade, Mr Simon Crean, and the Victorian Minister for Industry and Trade, Mr Theo Theophanous, both of who praised GM Holden for the work in extending the export of Holden variants to other countries.
Mr Reuss said GM Daewoo had drawn on Australian expertise and resources for a vehicle tailored to meet the needs of the Korean market.
“GM Holden develops its large cars to be world class and we are seeing that paying dividends with new export programs like the one announced today,” Reuss said.
“Cars we build here in Australia are being exported to every continent except Antarctica for brands including Holden, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Vauxhall and now GM Daewoo.
“And with the engine in the Veritas also being built by Holden, it’s fair to say we are exporting the complete package.
“Exports are an increasingly important part of our business and Veritas again proves we have the capability to design, engineer and build vehicles for a wide range of consumers and markets.”
Based on GM’s Global Rear Wheel Drive architecture, Veritas is powered by a 3.6-litre Alloytec V6 and is fitted with a five-speed automatic transmission with fully optimized gear ratio settings plus Active Select and Sport Shift.
Mr Reuss said the Veritas would redefine the premium large car market in Korea, where the car had been primarily developed as a luxury, chauffeur-drive vehicle.
He added that Veritas boasted segment-leading legroom in the Korean market as well as luxury features including massaging rear seats, electric-adjustable headrests and LCD screen and headset.
Having experienced the rear seat of the Veritas, CarAdvice can see some Australian customers demanding similar levels of luxury of the Caprice and Statesman versions of the WM Holden.
Mr Reuss said, “This vehicle represents a significant export program for GM Holden and is a prime example of how our recognised expertise in rear-wheel drive performance continues to be utilised by General Motors globally.”
He added that GM Holden had always stressed that exports are an essential part of its business to ensure it would not only survive, but also prosper.
“The vehicle will be built at our assembly plant in Elizabeth, South Australia and will see us move even closer to our objective of a 50-50 export and domestic production split.
“It is a testament to our engineers, designers and the efficiency and flexibility of our plant that we are able to produce vehicles that satisfy the demands of both local and overseas markets, in both left hand and right hand drive.
Endorsing the GM Holden announcement the Trade Minister, Mr Crean, said, “This is a significant new market opportunity for Australia, it needs to be recognized that Korea is our sixth largest trading partner.”
Mr Crean said the Labor Government ‘s trade policy was based on two pillars - market access and having a viable, productive and competitive industry.
“It is no good opening up markets if you don’t have competitive industries to exploit those markets.”
He said the GM Daewoo Veritas was an example of making the most of that competitiveness.
“To do this needs the experience of a company that can deliver, and GM Holden is such a company, “ he said.
Questioned about the impact of the exports to Korea Mr Reuss said he would not be drawn on the numbers of cars that were expected to be sold or whether the addition of the Korean market to the company’s exports would mean any increase in jobs.
“This is an experiment for us that is of value for us to show leadership in an export market that has growth potential for Australia,” he said.
Asked if the additional luxury that had been incorporated in the Veritas might flow through to the local Caprice and Statesman, Mr Reuss indicated that the company was looking at this, but no decision had yet been made.
Mr Reuss acknowledged that the Veritas was similar in equipment to the Buick Park Avenue, which is based on the WM design and engineering, but is being built in China.
However, he said the Korean market was more of a niche market and Australia was much better able to service the market than China.
GM Holden designer Tony Stolfo told CarAdvice that there had been some engineering changes to the WM platform to incorporate the new level of luxury, including changes to the rear floor and seat back to accommodate the electrically adjustable rear seats.
Interestingly the new car will be called the GM Daewoo FC360 in Korea, and when CarAdvice asked what the FC stood for it sent the Holden PR crew scurrying for an explanation.
In true keeping with the style of the Veritas it apparently stands for “First Class” – an image GM Holden will be hoping the WM Holden quickly adopts in its newest home.