Holden Commodore ready for next O.E in American market

April 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

When the Pontiac brand was killed off in the States so was the Holden Commodore, but at that time financially desperate General Motors had little idea of the following that the Commodore/Pontiac G8 already had.

Now, after serious demand, the Commodore will likely return to the U.S market badged as a Chevrolet SS sedan. There is also a chance that the Commodore’s ute and wagon form will also be sold in the states, but they remain unapproved at this stage. The Commodore ute would likely receive the El Camino moniker and the long back car would keep the SportWagon name.

If the Commodores do make it to the States in Chevy trim it won’t likely be until early 2013 as GM is waiting for the next-generation “VF” Commodore to be developed by Holden. GM will be most interested in performance models for the American market so expect Holden’s exports to be mostly V8 powered. Continue reading “Holden Commodore ready for next O.E in American market” »

HSV to launch Pontiac GXP-based models

December 9th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

HSV GXP fq

Holden Special Vehicles has just confirmed that it will be launching two limited edition models in 2010, based on the US-market Pontiac G8 GXP programme.

The HSV ClubSport GXP sedan and HSV Maloo GXP ute will enter the Holden Special Vehicles line-up as limited edition entry-level models, with customer deliveries due to begin early next year.

According to HSV Managing Director Phil Harding the HSV ClubSport GXP and HSV Maloo GXP represent an outstanding opportunity for HSV to complement its existing lineup with a limited edition entry level vehicle.

“We receive lots of enquiries about introducing a model to sit as an entry level to our brand and the GXP program provides us this opportunity,” Mr Harding said.

“I have always said that in order for a car to wear the HSV badge it needs to satisfy three criteria – Performance, Handling and Design. Clearly these cars tick all three boxes.”

Specific in-depth technical details haven’t been revealed, but HSV has released some info.

The ClubSport GXP and Maloo GXP will be powered by HSV’s 6.2 litre LS3 V8, offering the same 317kW of power and 550Nm of torque as the ‘regular’ ClubSport.

Suspension for the ClubSport GXP will be unique to the GXP package, while the Maloo GXP is offered with a unique HSV suspension tune.

A unique Brembo package will handle braking duties.

The latest E Series 2 styling touches will feature up front, with E2 daylight running lights, front bumper and Pontiac-style vented bonnet.

Inside, both models will feature the ClubSport R8 interior with sports cloth seats.

The ClubSport GXP will come with a recommended retail price of $NZD76,990 for the manual, and the Maloo GXP has a recommended retail price of $NZD68,590 manual. Auto variants attract a $1200 premium.

HSV will build 400 ClubSport GXPs and 350 Maloo GXPs, with the first cars expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2010.

Holden announces SS V-Series Special Edition

October 2nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Holden SS V-Series Special Edition fq

What were only rumours last month, the Pontiac-faced Holden SS V-Series Special Edition was yesterday officially announced by Holden.

The SS V-Series Special Edition sports a grille clearly inspired by that featured on the SS-based, US-market Pontiac G8.

Along with the special edition grille, the letterbox bonnet scoops and lower splitter of the G8 have made their way across to the new special edition Holden.

“SS V-Series has always been about sports performance and ultimate road presence. Now we’ve dialled it up even further,” Philip Brook, Holden Director of Marketing said. “The International edition is even better value when you combine extra features with the advanced 3.0 litre direct injection engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.”

Available in three colours – black, red and blue – the Special Edition version of the SS V-Series can be had in sedan, Sportwagon and Ute form.

The SS V-Series Special Edition will be available in Australia from November, after the Ute makes its debut on Friday the 2nd of October at the Deni Ute Muster over the ditch.

Holden Commodore survives stateside

July 15th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Chevrolet Caprice fq

With GM sending the Pontiac brand name to the scrapheap, there was no doubt Holden was nervous, it supplied VE Commodores as Pontiac G8s. Now, according to GM’s Bob Lutz, the plan is to continue offering the VE but rebadged as a Chev Caprice. “The last time we looked at [the G8], we decided that we would continue to import it as a Chevrolet. It is kind of too good to waste.”  Was the comment from Lutz.

As previously reported, there is also a feasibility study going on bassed around weather the cars could also be used as successful law enforcement vehicles to replace the current out dated American fleet. Either way, It looks like Holden Australia are going to have plenty of orders coming in.

Holden Commodore may survive in American market

June 9th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Pontiac G8 fq dyn

Over in the states the once proud Pontiac brand is now dead in the water but many American enthusiasts are clamouring for the Pontiac G8 aka Holden Commodore to be rebadged and sold under another GM brand name.

Designed and constructed in Australia by Holden, the G8 has been a better than average seller thanks to its competitive pricing and sporty nature, and it may get another chance.

GM’s current CEO, Fritz Henderson, has already been clear that no Pontiac vehicle will survive the marques extinction. But Henderson also has a commitment to retain bits of GM’s sporting heritage, so the Corvette will remain in the portfolio along with other performance models. The high-performance version of the G8 named the G8 GXP will not continue according to Henderson but what about the lesser versions?

The standard Pontiac G8 sedan’s future is up in the air and enthusiasts are lobbying GM to keep the car and simply remarket it as the Impala SS. With the Impala SS set to be phased out shortly, the plan appears to have timing on its side, but even so GM’s vice chairman of global product development Tom Stephens still doesn’t think there’s room for the car at Chevrolet.

In a recent interview, Stephens claimed that while there are still be discussions raging on about the G8′s future, the fact is that “Chevrolet already has several sedans” making the rebranding of the car unnecessary. GM could attempt to rebrand it as a Buick model but again the likelihood of this is uncertain considering boss man Fritz Henderson’s dislike of the G8 GXP performance model.

The G8/Commodore has done the hard yards and proven itself in the American market  and with minimal development costs it would be easy to market the car following Pontiac’s demise – although figuring out which brand may best support the car will be very tricky for GM.

Here’s a crazy idea; why not take that stupid Pontiac face off the car, let it be a proudly Australian Holden Commodore, and sell it through the GM dealer networks. Then watch as the American public slowly realise that a GM subsidiary on the other side of the world is making a better sports sedan than GM America is capable of.

Pontiac is dead – what now for Holden? An AU$1billion loss! (+video)

April 28th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Pontiac is dead

We were quite bullish on Holden’s future until this morning when we read GM’s press release. We were of the opinion that it would cost GM too much to ditch Holden, but it seems that by any measures necessary, GM will slash costs, even if that means ditching brands that could once again flourish.

The problem for Holden is that now Pontiac has gone, there’ll be no more orders for the G8, which is based on the Commodore. Holden was banking on selling 30,000 of these in the US and another 70,000 worldwide. US$77m was spent upgrading the Port Elizabeth factory in Australia to build left-hand drive vehicles.

Holden’s only hope is to rebadge the Commodore/G8 as a Chevy – something that’s already done in some markets.

The words fire sale come to mind as GM heads towards Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Here’s GM’s full press release, and a video of the press conference.

PRESS RELEASE:

FOR RELEASE: 2009-04-27

GM Accelerates its Reinvention as a Leaner, More Viable Company

Updated Viability Plan Speeds, Deepens Restructuring of U.S. Operations

DETROIT — General Motors (NYSE: GM) today presented an updated Viability Plan that will speed the reinvention of GM’s U.S. operations into a leaner, more customer-focused, and more cost-competitive automaker.

The Viability Plan is included in an exchange offer whereby GM is offering certain bondholders shares of GM common stock and accrued interest in exchange for certain outstanding notes.
Revised Viability Plan goes further and faster

The Viability Plan announced today builds on the February 17 Viability Plan submitted to the U.S. Treasury. The revised Plan accelerates the timeline for a number of important actions and makes deeper cuts in several key areas of GM’s operations, with the objective to make us a leaner, faster, and more customer-focused organization going forward.
Significant changes include:

* A focus on four core brands in the U.S. – Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC – with fewer nameplates and a more competitive level of marketing support per brand.
* A more aggressive restructuring of GM’s U.S. dealer organization to better focus dealer resources for improved sales and customer service.
* Improved U.S. capacity utilization through accelerated idling and closures of powertrain, stamping, and assembly plants.
* Lower structural costs, which GM North America (GMNA) projects will enable it to breakeven (on an adjusted EBIT basis) at a U.S. total industry volume of approximately 10 million vehicles, based on the pricing and share assumptions in the plan. This rate is substantially below the 15 to 17 million annual vehicle sales rates recorded from 1995 through 2007.

“We are taking tough but necessary actions that are critical to GM’s long-term viability,” said Fritz Henderson, GM president and CEO. “Our responsibility is clear – to secure GM’s future – and we intend to succeed. At the same time, we also understand the impact these actions will have on our employees, dealers, unions, suppliers, shareholders, bondholders, and communities, and we will do whatever we can to mitigate the effects on the extended GM team.”
Fewer U.S. brands, nameplates, and dealers

As part of the revised Viability Plan and the need to move faster and further, GM in the U.S. will focus its resources on four core brands, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. The Pontiac brand will be phased out by the end of 2010. GM will offer a total of 34 nameplates in 2010, a reduction of 29 percent from 48 nameplates in 2008, reflecting both the reduction in brands and continued emphasis on fewer and stronger entries. This four-brand strategy will enable GM to better focus its new product development programs and provide more competitive levels of market support.

The revised plan moves up the resolution of Saab, Saturn, and Hummer to the end of 2009, at the latest. Updates on these brands will be provided as these initiatives progress.

Working with its dealers, GM anticipates reducing its U.S. dealer count from 6,246 in 2008 to 3,605 by the end of 2010, a reduction of 42 percent. This is a further reduction of 500 dealers, and four years sooner, than in the February 17 Plan. The goal is to accomplish this reduction in an orderly, cost-effective, and customer-focused way. This reduction in U.S. dealers will allow for a more competitive dealer network and higher sales effectiveness in all markets. More details on these initiatives will be provided in May.
Sales volume and market share projections

The Viability Plan anticipates improved financial results despite more conservative U.S. sales volume expectations going forward. The lower volume expectations are the result of managing the business with fewer nameplates and dealers, leaner inventories, and reduced market share. To address the inventory issue, GM on April 23 announced U.S. production schedule reductions of approximately 190,000 vehicles during the second and early third quarters of 2009.

The Viability Plan also reduces GM’s market share projections to adjust for the impact of the brand and dealer consolidation, as well as for the short-term impact of speculation regarding a GM bankruptcy. The plan assumes a 19.5 percent share in 2009, with share stabilizing in the 18.4 to 18.9 percent range in subsequent years.

“We have strong new product coming for our four core brands: the Chevrolet Camaro, Equinox, Cruze and Volt; Buick LaCrosse; GMC Terrain; and Cadillac SRX and CTS Sport Wagon and Coupe,” said Henderson. “A tighter focus by GM and its dealers will help give these products the capital investment, marketing and advertising support they need to be truly successful.”
Lower structural costs, lower breakeven point

The Viability Plan also lowers GMNA’s breakeven volume to a U.S. annual industry volume of 10 million total vehicles, based on the pricing and share assumptions in the plan. This lower breakeven point (at an adjusted EBIT level) better positions GM to generate positive cash flow and earn an adequate return on capital over the course of a normal business cycle, a requirement set forth by the U.S. Treasury in its March 30 viability plan assessment.

GM will lower its breakeven point by cutting its structural costs faster and deeper than had previously been planned:

* Manufacturing: Consistent with the mandate to accelerate restructuring, we plan to reduce the total number of assembly, powertrain, and stamping plants in the U.S. from 47 in 2008 to 34 by the end of 2010, a reduction of 28 percent, and to 31 by 2012. This would reflect the acceleration of six plant idling/closures from the February 17 plan, and one additional plant idling. Throughout this transition, GM will continue to implement its flexible global manufacturing strategy (GMS), which allows multiple body styles and architectures to be built in one plant. This enables GM to use its capital more efficiently, increase capacity utilization, and respond more quickly to market shifts.

* Employment: U.S. hourly employment levels are projected to be reduced from about 61,000 in 2008 to 40,000 in 2010, a 34 percent reduction, and level off at about 38,000 starting in 2011. This further planned reduction of an additional 7,000 to 8,000 employees from the February 17 Plan is primarily the result of the previously discussed operational efficiencies, nameplate reductions, and plant closings. GM also anticipates a further decline in salaried and executive employment as it continues to assess its structure and execute the Viability Plan. More details will be announced as soon as they are finalized with the various stakeholders.
* Labor costs: The Viability Plan assumes a reduction of U.S. hourly labor costs from $7.6 billion in 2008 to $5 billion in 2010, a 34 percent reduction. GM will continue to work with its UAW partners to accomplish this through a reduction in total U.S. hourly employment as well as through modifications in the collective bargaining agreement.

As a result of these and other actions, GMNA’s structural costs are projected to decline 25 percent, from $30.8 billion in 2008 to $23.2 billion in 2010, a further decline of $1.8 billion by 2010 versus the February 17 Plan.
Strengthening GM’s balance sheet

Another key element of GM’s restructuring will be taking the necessary actions to strengthen its balance sheet. GM today took an important step in improving its balance sheet by launching a bond exchange offer for approximately $27 billion of its unsecured public debt. If successful, the bond exchange would result in the conversion of a large majority of this debt to equity.

“A stronger balance sheet would free the company to invest in the products and technologies of the future,” Henderson said. “It will also help provide stability and security to our customers, our dealers, our employees, and our suppliers.”

Another important part of improving the balance sheet will be the ongoing discussions with the UAW to modify the terms of the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA), and with the U.S. Treasury regarding possible conversion of its debt to equity. The current bond exchange offer is conditioned on the converting to equity of at least 50 percent of GM’s outstanding U.S. Treasury debt at June 1, 2009, and at least 50 percent of GM’s future financial obligations to the new VEBA. GM expects a debt reduction of at least $20 billion between the two actions.

In total, the U.S. Treasury debt conversion, VEBA modification and bond exchange could result in at least $44 billion in debt reduction.

Throughout the Plan, GM will continue to make significant investment in future products and new technologies, with an investment of $5.4 billion in 2009, and investments ranging from $5.3 to $6.7 billion from 2010 to 2014. Very importantly, development and testing of the Chevy Volt extended-range electric car remains on track for start of production by the end of 2010 and arrival in Chevrolet dealer showrooms soon thereafter.

“The Viability Plan reflects the direction of President Obama and the U.S. Treasury that GM should go further and faster on our restructuring,” Henderson said. “We appreciate their support and direction. This stronger, leaner business model will enable GM to keep doing what it does best – provide great new cars, trucks and crossovers to our customers, and continue to develop new advanced propulsion technologies that are vital for our country’s economy and environment.”

# # #

About GM – General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), one of the world’s largest automakers, was founded in 1908, and today manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 243,000 people in every major region of the world, and sells and services vehicles in some 140 countries. In 2008, GM sold 8.35 million cars and trucks globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.

Forward-Looking Statements – In this press release and in related comments by our management, our use of the words “plan,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “ensure,” “promote,” “believe,” “improve,” “intend,” “enable,” “continue,” “will,” “may,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “project,” “positioned” or similar expressions is intended to identify forward-looking statements that represent our current judgment about possible future events. We believe these judgments are reasonable, but these statements are not guarantees of any events or financial results, and our actual results may differ materially due to a variety of important factors. Among other items, such factors might include: our ability to comply with the requirements of our credit agreement with the U.S. Treasury; our ability to execute the restructuring plans that we have disclosed, our ability to maintain adequate liquidity and financing sources and an appropriate level of debt; the ability of our foreign subsidiaries to restructure and receive financial support from their local governments or other sources; our ability to restore consumers’ confidence in our viability and to continue to attract customers, particularly for our new products; our ability to sell, spin-off or phase out some of our brands, to manage the distribution channels for our products, and to complete other planned asset sales; and the overall strength and stability of general economic conditions and of the automotive industry, both in the U.S. and globally.

Our most recent reports on SEC Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K provide information about these and other factors, which may be revised or supplemented in future reports to the SEC on those forms.

Holden Commodore to save General Motors?

April 3rd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Holden Commodore

General Motors is too broke to develop any new rear-drive platforms, but recent reports from our mates in Australia suggest that the existing Zeta platform that underpins such models as the Holden Commodore and now the new Chevrolet Camaro could carry on for at least another decade.

Holden only finished development of the current Zeta platform a couple of years back, and is still admiring its handiwork. However, the next generation Commodore, currently sold in the North American market as the Pontiac G8, is looking likely to downsize when it’s expected to debut in 2013 and carry on through to 2020. This is a common strategy among most car-makers presently to increase economy and reduce emissions. Along with the reduced size and weight, GM could for the domestic American market use more efficient, though still powerful engines, employing direct injection and/or turbocharging like the Cadillac and Saab variants of the V6 already used by Holden.

General Motors will continue to look closely at Holden’s progress in the Australian market as a testing ground for what may save it in North America, so fans of rear-drive American muscle still have some hope to hold on to.