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VZ utes to lead Holden LCV boom

Updated: The VZ Ute range consists of the Ute (top), One-Tonner (left) and Crewman.

VZ Commodore utility range gets Alloytec V6 power and new six-speed manual

23 Aug 2004

HOLDEN may well be lost in the SUV wilderness, but its booming light commercial vehicle trade is expected to reach new heights again this year – spearheaded by the facelifted VZ Commodore utility range.

Transformed by an all-new V6 and six-speed manual transmission as standard for under $500 extra, the revised Commodore-based utility range virtually mirrors its VZ Commodore sedan and wagon counterparts launched two weeks ago.

Representing an $11 million investment on top of the VZ Commodore’s $189 million development cost, the updated VZ Ute, Crewman and One Tonner are now ready for duty with a 3.6-litre Alloytec V6 and six-slot manual, plus upgraded iterations of the 5.7-litre Gen III V8 and four-speed auto.

Unlike VZ sedans, however, the facelifted utilities come brandishing no premium 190kW version of Alloytec, no new five-speed automatic and no SV6 performance variant.

Continuing in base, S and SS variant guises, the Ute, Crewman and One Tonner ranges will combine with a new Rodeo workhorse launched last year to maintain Holden’s sales dominance of the thriving LCV market, which is already up 15 per cent this year and should end at around 160,000 units.

Of that, Holden expects to shift a record 50,000 of its own LCVs in 2004, for a market share of around 30 per cent. On top of 25,000 Rodeo sales, Holden hopes to shift 12,000 Ute, 8000 Crewman and 4500 One Tonner variants, along with about 1000 Combo vans.

Holden has experienced seven consecutive months of record LCV sales, led largely by Rodeo but heavily contributed to by Crewman and One Tonner, each of which is up 50 per cent on their launch year of 2003.

Holden’s consistently popular Ute is also up 50 per cent year-on-year and has in its own right seriously threatened the sales supremacy of Ford’s highly regarded Falcon load-hauler this year.

"The major contributors to our growth are our passenger-derivative products," said Holden executive director sales and marketing Ross McKenzie at last week’s VZ utility range launch.

13 center image"In addition to the famous Ute and One Tonner I have to say the Crewman (pictured) is really forging a name for itself.

"These vehicles I think have proven our ability to design, engineer, manufacture and market a variety of configurations off the one platform and to find niches within this segment which provide unbeatable options for our customers.

"If you merge Alloytec and the sedan-like chassis dynamics and then throw in the body styles that we offer, it is indeed a very potent mix."Mr McKenzie said that on top of a booming new vehicle market driven by a 10-year high in consumer sentiment due to record low levels of inflation, interest rates and unemployment, indicators that have a direct impact on the LCV market are also positive.

"Despite some slowing in the much publicised housing auction market, the new house construction and renovation market is still booming," he said.

"The home renovation market is actually still gaining momentum. In the first quarter of this year it increased by 20 per cent to 1.25 billion dollars worth of work. And it’s actually showing no signs of slowing. New housing dwelling approvals rose 1.5 per cent in June.

"Business confidence, which has a major bearing on this market, rose again last month. There were large increases noted in the construction sector … the outlook for any interest rate rises in the forseeable future has now disappeared.

"So all of that positive news is what is driving the record light commercial sales."

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