So how many cars Holden exports a year? Last year Holden exported 60,518 vehicles around the world, a record for the company since its export program started in 1954. Cars were sent to every continent except Antarctica. The 500 VE range cars, prepared as the Chevrolet Lumina and Chevrolet Caprice, are destined for ports throughout the Middle East where they will be distributed into the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
GM Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Denny Mooney, said exports were a key part in Holden ensuring its South Australian vehicle operations continued to run at full capacity. Mr Mooney said the Middle East market had grown into Holden’s largest destination of vehicles, with more than 30,000 shipped there last year.
He said the Chevrolet versions of Statesman and Caprice had become major sellers, enabling Holden to invest $190 million in the development of the WM series to extend its place in the domestic and export markets.
“The long wheelbase Holdens are now our biggest seller overseas which has allowed us to take these all-new cars to a whole new level,” Mr. Mooney said.“Caprice will be among the most spacious passenger cars in the world – all designed, engineered and manufactured right here in Australia.“ Middle East customers seek many of the same vehicle attributes as Australians and the incredible value offered by the all-new Commodore is sure to build on our strong position in the region.”
The VE Commodore has been prepared as a Chevrolet Lumina for the Middle East market and will be available in four models; the luxury LS and LTZ, and the sports S and SS. The advanced 3.6-litre Global V6 six-cylinder engine will be offered on LS, LTZ and the S while the 6.0-litre V8 will be available the SS.
The WM Caprice has also adopted the Chevrolet badge but will maintain its well recognised brand name. It will also be available in four models; the luxury LS, LTZ, the sporty SS and the top of the range Royale. The 3.6-litre engine will be available on the LS and LTZ and the 6.0L engine will be offered on the entire range.
Middle East Chevrolet Dealers, media and fleet customers had their first taste of the new VE and WM when they visited Australia in early September. According to Emma Pinwill, GM Holden’s Export Manager, the feedback has been extremely positive.
“The main question we were asked was how quickly we could get them over there,” Ms. Pinwill said.“The cars will be sold through the 24Dealers we have throughout the region and from the initial feedback we have received we expect a large interest from private and fleet customers.“With the huge advances in safety and the great styling of the VE and WM, we’re confident these cars will enhance our already strong reputation over there.”
Holden says that shipping to the middle east isn't an easy task, but all vehicles sent are carefully prepared for their month-long journey to ensure they are suitably protected. The vehicles are washed and have external wrap guards applied before the exterior is covered with a thin protective covering. Internal protection is added to the doors, seats, steering wheel and gear knob. All small items such as floor mats, keys and manuals are placed in the boot for safekeeping.
Holden expects the hevrolet Lumina and Caprice modelsto go on sale in early November.