Holden Statesman may become Chev
The long-wheelbase Commodore is already set for Chevrolet police cruiser duty in America and now a civil program is being assessed by General Motors. If it works it will happen within five years.
The potential for a renewed overseas connection for Commodore comes following the collapse of a major export program with Pontiac during GM's bankruptcy last year. The Pontiac G8, based on the Commodore SS, was just starting to make significant sales when it died along with the Pontiac brand.
"We want to take a look at re-introducing a civil version as a high- end Chevrolet," the vice-chairman and product czar of General Motors, Bob Lutz, said in Detroit yesterday. "I'm a great fan of the Commodore rear-wheel drive architecture and we had big plans for it. We were going to bring the ute over as either a GMC ute or a Chevrolet and then it was going to be a Pontiac sport truck, but then sadly the decision intervened to wind down Pontiac.
"We are now working with US law enforcement agencies to see about the long-wheelbase Commodore architecture being used as a specific law enforcement vehicle. The police do like rear-wheel drive, they do like lots of power and they like lots of room, and the Commodore satisfies all those needs."
The police car program was announced late in 2009 and will begin to ramp-up soon, starting in California, but Lutz said there is more potential in the Commodore. His news on the Statesman was welcomed by Holden chiefs in the USA for the Detroit Motor Show, although they hinted the luxury plan is more likely to be based on the Calais than the long-wheelbase car.
In any case, Lutz again showed his enthusiasm for the Holden engineering work and the Commodore as a car. It has already been morphed into the Chevrolet Camaro coupe, which is built in North America, with Lutz confirming a right-hand drive version in the near future. The only stumbling block could be the number of cars needed to make the program economical for Australia.
Lutz said a Chevrolet version of the Commodore ticks the box with enthusiast drivers. "When you get right down to it, the thrill of high performance driving is unmatched by anything that doesn't have rear-wheel drive and bags of torque and a nice transmission. That's why the Camaro feels so good.
"(So) There is a possibility of a high-end Chevrolet sedan that would be sold in limited numbers, kind of a premium Chevrolet high- performance sedan. Think of it as a four-door Corvette." The research work begins soon, just as Holden is finalising a mid-life update and cosmetic tweak for the VE Commodore later this year.
Lutz said the timing is right, but warned it would not be a big seller. "For the police version, and a potential Chevrolet version, we're talking well inside five years. "The reason we say limited volume and relatively high prices is, with US fuel economy regulations, we can't afford to sell too many."