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Pontiac pays the price

The last of the Aussie-made G8 sedans and utes will go to America some time next year.

It copped the chop this week when General Motors decided Pontiac, Hummer and Saab had to be sacrificed as part of a survival plan that is going to cost 20,000 jobs, 4000 dealerships and a couple of production lines.

The last of the Aussie-made G8 sedans and utes will go to America some time next year, perhaps even earlier. Pontiac will be gone by December 2010.

There is still a chance the Holden Commodore could continue as a major export for Australia.

Whispers around Fishermans Bend point to a plan to keep the G8 program running by switching the Pontiac badge for a Chevrolet one. The ute would look great as a born-again El Camino.

Even Industry Minister Senator Kim Carr can see the potential, but he is a man with rare vision on the motoring front.

“There will be a place for Australian-made cars in the American market, whatever the badge. The Government is working closely with the industry to open new export opportunities,” he said this week.

The G8 decision is a tough one but it was the only direct hit on GM Holden. White-collar layoffs are still likely as the company is “right-sized” for its future in the contracted GM world.

And that proves Holden is doing a top job, as a company and as an international asset.

Designers from Fishermans Bend do work for Europe, Asia and the US. Local engineers created the Chevrolet Camaro from the VE Commodore (it became a huge hit in America) and work on global projects and cars from South Korea.

The list of Aussie exports runs from GM China boss Kevin Wale to ace designer Mike Simcoe in Detroit, sales chief Megan Stooke at Hummer and even a lawyer in India. There are dozens of them.

It will take a while for Holden to adjust to the Pontiac decision but the best news on the production front is new boss Mark Reuss has fast-tracked the compact Cruze for the Adelaide factory.

It is capable of taking up a lot of the slack from the second half of next year and is almost certain to go overseas as a new export star in Asia and South Africa.