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Holden eyes Spark and Orlando

Small stuff: The Chevrolet Spark is a chance for Australia.

GM's Spark minicar and Odyssey-style Orlando are under the Holden microscope

13 Jan 2009


HOLDEN is considering importing the just-announced Chevrolet Spark minicar and Chevrolet Orlando seven-seater people-mover.

Speaking to GoAuto at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, Holden chairman and CEO Mark Reuss revealed that the Chevrolet Spark was under scrutiny for Australia.

“The Korean-based small cars that we are developing are world-class cars, so – absolutely – we are very interested in having them for Australia,” Mr Reuss said.

It is believed the Spark, the replacement for the Daewoo Matiz-based Chevrolet Matiz, will share many components with the next-generation Barina light car that is under development at GM Daewoo Auto & Technology in South Korea as the Gamma II project.

The Spark, a name already used for the existing Chevy Matiz in India, is a sub-B-segment light car contender against the Proton Savvy and upcoming Suzuki Alto, along with the Hyundai i10 and Ford Ka II, which have not been seen in Australia, and will slot beneath the Barina in size and price if it gets the green light from Holden.

137 center imageLeft: Chevrolet Spark light car and Orlando MPV (below).

GoAuto has learned that the next Barina will grow considerably in size to make room for the Spark below it, and should gain a much higher level of technical sophistication when the all-new version debuts in the next two years since it will be very closely related to the next-generation Opel Corsa.

While Holden wants to ascertain if there is a strong enough demand for the supermini, especially in the wake of the recent fuel price falls, it seems the company is quietly confident.

“I don’t think it is too small for Australia at all,” Mr Reuss said.

Although an image of the Chevrolet Spark was unveiled at the Detroit show this week, the public will not be able to see the completed production-ready model in the flesh until the Geneva motor show in March. All other details of the car are also under close watch by GM until then.

The car on display in Detroit is the Chevrolet Beat concept – the most popular of three minicars that GM displayed and then asked for the public to vote on back at the New York International Auto Show in April 2007. GM says more than two million people voted for the Beat online in the weeks following the show.

Meanwhile, while Mr Reuss has not ruled out the introduction of the Orlando to Australia, he indicated that Holden was looking carefully before deciding to leap.

“We have a very nice package (in the Orlando),” he said. “But, you know, that market and that segment is fragmented in Australia. You can have everything from a station wagon to a people-mover like the Honda Odyssey ... so there is a lot of different classes that end up being brought in from different places.

“So we have to really, really understand the demand for something like that in Australia, and I think we are in the process of looking at the market for that and what people are looking for (in that segment).” The Orlando Concept debuted last October and is believed to employ a variation of the Theta and Epsilon architecture that may underpin the replacement for the unloved Holden Epica.

At the debut of the Orlando Concept, GM said that it was “a clear indication that Chevrolet considers to enter the seven-seat family multi-purpose vehicle segment with a distinctive sport utility-like design, offering adaptable seating and impressive interior space”.

The Orlando seats seven with three rows in a theatre-style format, has a 2760mm wheelbase and features a spacious load area.

Among the engine options should be GM’s VM Motori-developed 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine, with about 110kW of power and 320Nm of torque, as seen in the current Holden Epica mid-sized sedan and Captiva mid-sized SUV.

The production version of the Orlando Concept is set to join the Spark in Geneva in the coming weeks.

Read more:

'Aussie' Orlando

First look: Chevrolet Orlando blooms in Paris

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