Speaking with CarAdvice at the 2016 New York motor show, Chevrolet Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser said that the US company is looking at opportunities in right-hand-drive markets, meaning a Camaro with a Holden badge could become a reality. Last year, Stefan Jacoby, General Motors’ executive vice president of international operations, said a V8 Holden car would be launched so that the brand has an eight-cylinder model available after local production ceases in late 2017.
Oppenheiser made it clear that the company had taken notice of the order success of the Ford Mustang – which is sold out until 2017 in Australia – and that Chevrolet needs to be able to justify the expense of adding a right-hand-drive version with strong sales in the relevant markets.
“If we think the volume is such that we should do the right-hand drive, it’s an investment to do that for us. If the volume wouldn’t sustain it, you know, and there’s nobody in Japan anymore, so it would be Australia and the UK,” Oppenheiser said.
“Is that enough to sustain it? We’re studying that,” he said.
“I’ll tell you we're studying our competitors over in Dearborn and what they’re doing: is it a success for them? Is it not?
“We know what it takes to do it, but obviously we have right-hand-drive Cadillacs, so it’s not impossible. But we have not made that decision yet,” he said. “We share the major components with the CTS and the ATS.
“We could tell you that we're going to do a right-hand-drive version... But we're not doing a right-hand-drive in the foreseeable future,” Oppenheiser said, leaving it open to interpretation as to just how long the foreseeable future may be.
“Well this is what you have to understand: is it a demand because everybody that wanted one bought one in the first year? And are they going to sell them in year two? You don’t want to do that, right?
“It’s like your V8 – everybody’s going to buy your V8 first, so you want to have all your suppliers ready to pump out as many V8s as you can, because they’re going to buy them first. Then it levels off – V6 and our 2.0-litre turbo will take over as the volume leader.
“The same thing with that right-hand-drive decision is, is it something that will sustain a certain volume every year? If it is, we’ll do it,” he said, giving the strongest indication yet that we could actually see the Camaro wearing a Holden badge.
“If it’s something that’s a one-year wonder, and then it’s gone… we’ve experienced that with the left-hand-drive in certain countries. Especially in the fifth-gen, after Transformers came out, some countries bought 1000 and sold 1000 in a week. We sent another 1000 over and they stay for three years.
“You’ve got to make sure, we are in the business to make money and if it’s going to be a good business case, we would do it,” he said.
The right-hand-drive sports car question has seen rabid speculation that the Corvette, Camaro or a performance version of the Opel Insignia would be the car for the job. But this news from Oppenheiser appears to sway the argument, once again, in favour of the Camaro.
“Our Chevrolet leadership and the leadership of the company understand and made the statements. The president made the statement in the UK last year. It'll be a market-driven decision.”
Would you like to see the Chevrolet Camaro sold in Australia as a Holden?