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Holden ute "did not fit Pontiac vision"

Order cancelled: the Australian-built Pontiac G8 ST ute.

GM Holden's Elizabeth plant was due to start gearing up to build the Commodore-derived Pontiac G8 ST ute within months, with shipments due to start at the end of the year.

With projected exports of up to 5000 V8 utes a year, the decision is a blow to Holden's Adelaide manufacturing base.

Detroit-based Pontiac spokesman, Jim Hopson, said the decision to cancel the export program was taken ``as part of a vehicle review associated with GM's long-term viability plans''.

``The G8 ST did not fit the future vision of Pontiac as a sporty car brand."

``However, this decision does not affect other Pontiac G8 models, including the recently launched G8 GXP.''

GM Holden spokesman, Jonathan Rose, confirmed the program had been halted.

``We had that confirmation overnight,'' he said. Rose said even if the US market picked up this year any decision to re-activate the ute export program was up to Pontiac.

"It would clearly be a Pontiac decision,'' he said.

The Pontiac decision does not affect exports of the G8 sedan, which is based on the Commodore sedan. However, because of the slump in North American car sales, Pontiac has sold just 15,000 G8s, half the expected forecast.

The North American and Middle East markets are GM Holden's most important export markets.