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Low volume: Performax expects to sell 20 Corvettes a year.

Future factory plan fails to dampen local Corvette launch

30 Jan 2007

A QUEENSLAND company that has just launched a right-hand drive version of the monster 7.0-litre Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is not about to abandon the market just yet – despite the spectre of a factory Holden version on the horizon.

Performax International – which until recently operated as Corvette Queensland – released the 2007 Corvette Z06 last week in Brisbane, priced from $240,000.

Holden has expressed its desire to offer the next-generation Corvette that is due in about 2010, provided its GM parent company in the United States holds true to a promise to engineer all its future models for right-hand drive as well as left-hand drive.

If Holden imports the vehicle, it will have full-volume compliance, preventing compliance granted to anyone else in this country.

However, Performax International general manager Nick Vandenberg was sceptical of a factory offering ever eventuating.

"They always say that (they will do RHD)," Mr Vandenberg said. "You believe it when it’s actually running off the line.

"Every time a new GM product comes out, you read that it’s coming in right-hand drive. It’s just one of those things. If it comes, maybe we’ll see it in ’09, but who knows? "When GM do their figures, what are (Holden) going to take? One-hundred cars? That’s really not going to make GM keen.

"Holden have to prove the (Hummer) H3 now. That’s a big undertaking for them and they still have sore feet from the Suburban (a full-size GM SUV that was converted to RHD in Mexico), which was not that long ago.

137 center imageFrom top: Ford Mustang GT, GMC Yukon Denali and Hummer H2.

"They are going to concentrate heavily on the H3, so to undertake a Corvette and get it out into the market, that’s big.

"The numbers we do are great for our business, but (a company like) Holden needs to turn over lots to justify those sorts of moves.

"We never have all our eggs in one basket, that’s why we have a broad range of vehicles. If GM did decide to do a particular vehicle, that’s fine we will just concentrate on the other vehicles we’ve got." The Corvette is a small-volume halo car even for Performax, which mostly sells converted GM trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, as well as the big Hummer H2.

The Gympie-based company, which sold more than 150 vehicles last year, expects to sell about 20 Corvette Z06s a year. It has recently exported a handful of Z06s to South Africa.

Performax is currently undergoing research and development work on a Ford Mustang GT and expects to have a fully compliant RHD car on the market early next year.

The 5.0-litre Mustang GT is expected to sell for a little more than $100,000.

Coming later in the year, is the new model 6.2-litre V8 GMC Yukon Denali luxury SUV wagon – the GMC version of the Suburban. Mr Vandenberg describes the car as a beautiful, top-class vehicle that will retail from around $165,000.

Performax is also offering a regular 6.0-litre Corvette C6 coupe auto at $180,000 and a convertible auto for $190,000.

However, it expects only a handful of orders for each of the cheaper versions as most potential customers prefer the hairy-chested looks and performance of the 377kW Z06 hardtop.

Mr Vandenberg said he and company founder Greg Waters had no problems with GM and Holden because "we respect the product and we treat it professionally".

"Greg and I have spoken to a couple of guys high up at Holden," Mr Vandenberg said. "They originally came to us about (doing) the Suburban and it all came down to cost. I believe if they had done it with us they would still be selling them, but that was their decision to make."
What's coming:
Corvette Z06, Coupe and Convertible Feb 2007
GMC Yukon Denali Late 2007
Ford Mustang GT Feb 2008

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