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Detroit show: US rejects VE Commodore wagon

Stationary wagon: US export prospects for the VE Commodore Sportwagon have all but disappeared.

Despite strong interest within GM, the VE Sportwagon will not make it to America

15 Jan 2008


HOLDEN will not export the VE Sportwagon to the United States in the foreseeable future as Americans continue to ignore wagons in virtually any size and form – in contrast to the situation in Europe where such vehicles have a healthy share of the market.

This was the bombshell dropped by General Motors’ product czar Bob Lutz this week to the Australian media at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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“We looked at that, but the amount of change to meet US regulations was going to be quite a lot of money,” Mr Lutz said. “And the sad truth is, as much as some of us like ‘sportwagons’, they just don’t sell in the US.

“How often do you see an Audi wagon? How often do you see a BMW wagon? How often do you see a Mercedes wagon? The answer is, almost never.

“They’re just not fashionable. I can’t explain why.” Mr Lutz revealed that he championed the VE wagon strongly, but was shouted down by the number crunchers who could not make a strong enough business case for the Australian Commodore carryall.

“We have the product idea: We say: ‘Hey, how about taking the (Holden) Sportwagon and doing a (US Pontiac) G8 Sportwagon of it,’” he said.

“Then we turn it over to the marketing guys, who do the volume analysis, and they look at sales of Audi A4 wagons … zero. BMW 3 Series wagons: close to zero. Mercedes C-class wagon and E-class – it’s all close to zero. The Jaguar X-Type … it was sales proof! “But then we say: ‘Well, we think this one looks so good, that it can overcome that, and the volume planners say: well … we can only do two to three thousand, which is not worth the investment.

“So, reluctantly, in my particular case, I reluctantly gave up on that one.” The production version of the VE Sportswagon – which made a splash at last October’s Australian International Motor Show in Sydney – is due to arrive early in the second quarter of this year.

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