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Simcoe: Monaro and Camaro can co-exist

Flying the coupes: Camaro coupe concept made its Oz debut on Friday.

GM design boss Mike Simcoe says next Chev Camaro could be sold alongside new Monaro

6 Mar 2007

FORMER Holden design chief and now General Motors’ executive director of global car design Mike Simcoe has confirmed that the Chevrolet Camaro coupe will be "a specialist market that works" in Australia, attracting a different sort of customer than for the Monaro.

After revealing to GoAuto last year that the VE Commodore-based Monaro "will come, eventually" – built on the same Australian-developed rear-wheel drive architecture that underpins the Camaro – Mr Simcoe said in Melbourne last week that the Camaro had enough appeal to be sold here as a niche vehicle under its own brand.

Both the Camaro and an altogether different-looking Monaro are expected to begin right-hand drive production late in 2009 or early 2010.

"If there was a Monaro, it would be competition clearly, but it’s a different sort of customer," he said.

13 center image"It (Camaro) would be a specialist vehicle because you couldn’t sell it as anything other than with a Chevrolet brand on it. But, hey, there’s a bunch of nostalgia here for Camaro because people did import the things and certainly they got raced. It won’t be huge volumes, but it will be a specialist market that works.

"It is a household name in the States, so it’s going to do well there. That will be its primary (market), but it will be available – we will attempt to make it available – in some other markets," he said.

Although he confirmed that the so-called Zeta architecture was flexible enough to be used on a range of rear-drive and all-wheel drive vehicles – "our stock in trade is to have an architecture that can flex to do lots and lots of jobs" – Mr Simcoe would not be drawn on whether a medium-sized Pontiac G6 sedan or a smaller Chevrolet hatchback rivalling BMW’s 1 Series would also emerge.

"Clearly, if you had everything else in front of you, and you had enough money to do whatever you wanted to do, you’d do a mid-sized car because it would give you access to that premium segment of the market," he said.

"Can we be there in a hurry? Are we going there? ... There’s lots of work to do at the moment, there’s lots of things happening." In relation to the export potential in the US of the forthcoming VE Commodore-based utility, Mr Simcoe said: "Again, if you had the luxury to be able to try things out, that’s clearly one of the things that you’d go back and try, because of the history of both Chevrolet (El Camino) and GMC (Sprint)." Is the American market ready for the return of small pick-ups such as these? "Yeah. But are those people in large enough numbers? I don’t know. There’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of market to be tapped with vehicles that are already in the plan, before we start getting into a lot of the outliers we might be thinking about." Holden’s sales and marketing executive director Alan Batey also told GoAuto last week that there was enough demand for a new-generation Monaro once the volume-selling models built off the same platform had reached the market.

"If we were to do a new Monaro, and if that car was as stunning as I think we would do it, I think there’s a good opportunity that the rest of General Motors would sit up and say, ‘We would like some of that,’" he said.

"At this moment in time, honestly, we don’t have that on the drawing board and you won’t be hearing any announcement from us in the next few months on that because there isn’t any to be made.

"We think there is a demand for a Monaro, but you have to set your priorities – your engineering, how much resources you have got and where you want to spend your money.

"For us, we’ve sat and watched the SUV market for the last decade and that segment is now huge. It’s as important as the large-car market and we’ve just (sat by and) watched it. We really need to set our priorities and that’s our priority."

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