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Green light for right-hand-drive Camaro

It's go: GM will make a right-hand-drive Chevrolet Camaro, but timing will decide if it makes it to Australia.

GM’s Lutz resurrects RHD Camaro, opening door for Australian sales

Chevrolet logo13 Jan 2010

By JAMES STANFORD

GENERAL Motors vice-chairman Bob Lutz has declared the company will build a right-hand-drive Chevrolet Camaro, paving the way for an Australian launch of the bold muscle car.

Plans for a right-hand-drive version of the car, which was engineered by Holden in Australia had been put on the shelf as GM slid towards bankruptcy, but Mr Lutz is confident it will come.

“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.

Mr Lutz indicated that the investment needed for such a program would be minimal.

“All of the parts are there, all we have to do is reverse the instrument panel, but all of the right-hand drive bits are a given because it is a right-hand drive architecture,” he said.

The Camaro was introduced in the US last March and has been a huge hit for GM, both in terms of sales but also in terms of image as the brand suffers from its financial collapse and restructure.

Built at GM’s Oshawa production facility, the Camaro is offered with a V6 and V8 engine.

137 center image Left: GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz.

The entry level LS and LT models run the same 3.6-litre direct injection V6 as the premium Commodore vehicles, which produces 227kW, while the SS uses a 6.2-litre LS3 V8 producing 318kW which is used for HSV models in Australia.

GM Holden president Alan Batey quickly stated that the Camaro was not a definite starter for Australia and that it would not come unless GM offered to deliver it fairly soon.

“I can tell you categorically that it is not coming in 2010. Can it come in 2011? If they act fast in the next 90 days and say ‘Ok, what are your volumes, let’s go’ they could probably tool up that fast,” Mr Batey said.

“The truth is we don’t have a launch date. Can it happen fast? Yes it can,” he said.

Mr Batey said Holden would be keen to sell the Camaro, but has concerns that it won’t do well if it arrives too late.

He said that if GM only offered up the car for Australia in three years, it would be four years old and the volume potential would have dropped significantly.

“Three years from now, too late mate,” he said. “(I) can’t give you the volume you need to justify the investment.

“My view on this is that the volumes are good as of today. If you want to come back to me in six months time the volumes will be different because the world changes.”

Mr Batey said his own take was that GM would not be about to lock in a right-hand drive Camaro any time soon because supply of the left-hand drive is still high.

“Every time I talk to someone from North America they say the thing is as hot as they have ever seen and that there is fantastic demand and if that is the situation, they are unlikely to switch me on fast.

Mr Batey said he hopes the right-hand-drive Camaro will come to Australia.

“It would just add some excitement to our portfolio,” he said.

Asked if the Camaro would cost somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000, he said “yes” and added “hopefully closer to $75,000”.

While Holden would consider a V6 version of the high performance coupe, Mr Batey said the V8 would be the real seller.

“We have never done very well in Australia when we have tried to go down that (V6) path the Monaro was a disaster. The market for us would be at the top end, people who buy that car don’t want to buy a value pack,” he said.

As for how many Camaros Holden could sell, Mr Batey said it was linked to its arrival date, but he added that it would always be a niche vehicle and would not do the same kind of numbers as the Monaro, which sold 4274 in its best year of 2002.

The vehicle would be sold as a Chevrolet model, but through Holden dealers, Mr Batey said.

“There will probably be some form of limited distribution, but probably the dealers would select themselves,” he said.

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