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Holden Commodore export deal

The Chevrolet SS will be their new top-of-the-range rear wheel drive high performance sedan.

The Adelaide-built VF Commodore sedan is destined to return to the sizeable US automotive market from late 2013.

It will join the Chevrolet family as the SS Performance model, alongside the Holden Caprice that's already on US soil as a police vehicle.

The company's executive director of engineering Greg Tyus says it will be a limited production derivative of the upcoming VF Commodore, designed, engineered and built by Holden giving the Chevrolet brand a new rear-wheel drive performance sedan for the first time in 17 years.

"The Chevrolet SS will be their new top-of-the-range rear wheel drive high performance sedan and as such will become Chevrolet's next NASCAR racecar and will debut next year at the Indy 500," he says.

The Holden announcement was short on drivetrain, pricing or model line-up details but the VF Commodore will be engineered for better fuel economy and lighter kerb weight - including a larger percentage of high-tensile hot-pressed body parts sourced from Australian suppliers.

Mr Tyus says the US performance model wouldn't involve major changes at the company's Elizabeth manufacturing facility - or any increase in workforce size - but he would not speculate on Sportwagon or Ute models joining the SS Performance sedan in the US.

The VE Commodore Ute was up for export to the US when the Pontiac brand was selling the Commodore as a G8 sedan - even having design elements in place to pass US regulations and undergoing climate testing for that region - but the demise of the Pontiac program halted that.

"Despite the fact that exports in today's economic conditions are tough, we can and will continue to pursue targeted and profitable export programs."

"Holden has a great track record of producing performance cars for GM, the design and engineering of the Chevrolet Camaro, the VE Commodore and the Pontiac G8, we're currently exporting the Caprice police patrol vehicle," Mr Tyus says.

Despite slow police patrol vehicle sales in the US, Mr Tyus says there is a lot of demand from "a different segment" for the higher-spec performance sedan, which also has supporters in high places.

Former Holden bosses Mark Reuss and Alan Batey are now both high up the GM North America tree - Reuss is now GM North America President and Alan Batey was recently been appointed to the newly-created position of GM vice president, U.S. Sales and Service, reporting to Reuss.

Mr Reuss says he was thrilled with the announcement.

"I am delighted to say that Chevrolet will deliver a true rear-wheel-drive NASCAR racecar in the SS that very closely links the performance sedan that will be available for sale," Reuss says.

"The Chevrolet SS is a great example of how GM is able to leverage its global product portfolio to deliver a unique performance experience that extends well beyond the track and I am personally looking forward to driving it," he says.

Mr Tyus says Holden's track record in producing the Chevrolet and the now-defunct Pontiac G8 had generated support for Holden to produce another car.

"There was a lot of clamouring for us to do something after that, in terms of our track record we're known for performance rear-wheel drive sedans and we anticipate that will continue," he says.

Holden had already sent more than 30,000 G8 sedans and sold more than 40,000 re-badged Monaros - sold as Pontiac GTOs - over a four year stint from 2002. Holden has exported around 750,000 vehicles around the world in the five decades since it first loaded a boat full of FJs and sent them to New Zealand in 1954.

The VE-based Pontiac G8 sedan export program came to a halt in 2009 with more than 36,000 G8s built in Adelaide and sent to the US.

 

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