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Camaro hopes crushed

Not here: Chev's Camaro is unlikely to go into right-hand drive production any time soon, after UK takes left-hook version.

Chev muscle car set for UK in left-hand drive, leaving Australia out in cold

2 Jul 2010

DWINDLING hopes of a factory-built right-hand-drive Chevrolet Camaro for Australia appear to have been snuffed out by a General Motors decision to introduce the Australian-designed and engineered, Canadian-built muscle car into Britain as left-hand drive boutique model.

Chevrolet UK took the opportunity of an appearance of the Camaro at the Goodwood Moving Motor Show this week to announce that it would sell the two-door coupe in Britain from 2011, in top-shelf 6.2-litre 318kW V8 SS guise.

But according to Autoexpress, the vehicle will be sold only in left-hand drive for the time being – a move that seemingly dashes any hope of an early right-hand-drive variant that could have opened the door for the introduction of the car to Australia, in this generation at least.

And although the official Chevrolet media release did not spell out details such as projected sales volumes, Autoexpress said Chevrolet UK planned to sell only 100 vehicles a year starting in May 2011, and would follow up with the Camaro Convertible later in the year.

Holden senior manager product communications Jonathan Rose told GoAuto that the Camaro was still “not on the horizon” for Australia.

“While this is a brilliant car and one that we have a real soft-spot for, given the work we undertook on it, there’s not plan to introduce it at this stage,” he said.

137 center imageFrom top: Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, 2007 Camaro Convertible Concept.

Just six months ago, then GM vice chairman Bob Lutz said at the Detroit motor show that he was still confident the Camaro would go into right-hand drive production.

“The Camaro at some point will be factory right-hand drive. That is what we are currently looking at with a great deal of focus,” Mr Lutz said.

“It would be built in the plant in Canada and shipped from here in right-hand drive for right-hand drive markets and, you know, why not?” he said.

But Mr Lutz has gone, and the UK decision to go with left-hand drive sales indicates that a right-hand-drive version is still at least a couple of years away, and maybe never.

Without sales support from high-volume right-hand-drive markets such as the UK and Japan, Holden has little hope of proving a business case for Australia, with its projected small volumes.

One of the few ways Australian drivers can lay their hands on a right-hand-drive Camaro is to buy a converted car from Queensland-based Performax International for $139,000 driveaway.

Although GM formally announced that development of a factory right-hand-drive Camaro had been killed off in early 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis, talk of a resumption of RHD planning has surfaced from time to time, seemingly nudged along by Camaro champion Mr Lutz.

The Camaro is built on the Holden-engineered Zeta rear-drive architecture, and was penned at Holden’s Port Melbourne design centre.

The Holden design – which was GM’s second attempt after GM powerbrokers baulked at the original concept done in Detroit – won the 2010 World Car of the Year award.

Like most sports cars, sales soared in the first 12 months after it was launched in the US in April 2009, but volumes have slowed this year, down 19 per cent year to date.

Chevrolet is hoping the volumes will receive a kick along with the release of the convertible version in the first quarter of 2011.

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