Overseas interest in GM Holden’s billion dollar baby is no more, with General Motors global product development vice-chairman Bob Lutz announcing a halt to all future rear-wheel-drive large-car development for North America.
The current Pontiac G8 sedan and Chevrolet Camaro were to be just the first of many Australian exports destined for the US market as part of a global portfolio based on the Holden-developed Zeta architecture.
However increasingly frugal fuel-economy legislation combined with the global economic crisis has made the Zeta architecture near redundant in the current market climate.
“The strategy we had a few years ago of basically deriving a whole sweeping global portfolio off the Australian Zeta architecture … frankly, we have had to abandon that dream,” Mr Lutz said.”
“This is because, whether you are in the United States or in China, fuel economy mandates are getting more and more severe, and we just could not base our strategy on doing relatively large and relatively heavy rear-wheel-drive cars.”
The first casualty of this decision came with the cancellation of the Pontiac G8 ST last week – just months before it was due to arrive in showrooms across North America.
The future of its sedan sibling at this stage is far more certain, with Mr Lutz revealing the fate of the Pontiac G8 in the US relies completely on GM’s strategic review of the ailing brand.
“We’ve said that we are going to focus Pontiac down to one or two entries – and for the time being one of the two entries will be the G8, the other being the Pontiac Vibe, and of course the Solstice Roadster and Coupe – and that’s basically the Pontiac line-up.”
This decision will not affect recently announced plans to develop and assemble a next-generation small car at GM Holden’s Elizabeth plant in South Australia, an initiative prioritised by managing director and CEO Mark Reuss to ensure the future viability of the Australian icon.
“Holden has basically committed to localising a compact car for Australia’s future because we see that is where the growth is,” said Mr Reuss.
Mr Lutz also commented that the next-generation Holden Commodore would arrive as scheduled for the Australian market in the next few years and would continue to use the Zeta architecture.