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LA show: Chevrolet has sold just 60 SS sedans

Go figure: Chevrolet has opened sales of the Holden-built SS performance sedan with customer stocks of just 100.

Tiny sales figures for Holden's Chevrolet SS in US, but Reuss says it is early days

22 Nov 2013

By RON HAMMERTON in LOS ANGELES

CHEVROLET has delivered just 60 Holden Commodore-based Chevrolet SS sedans in North America in its first week or two on sale there, according to the architect of the export program to the United States, General Motors North America president Mark Reuss.

The former chairman and managing director of Holden told GoAuto at the Los Angeles motor show where the newly-launched car is on display that Chevrolet had only 100 units in stock thus far and that it was “early days”.

He said Chevrolet was “really focused” on making the car a success.

“We have a 100 and we sold 60 of them,” he said. “I expect it to be great and that's why I bought it here.”

Chevrolet is targeting between 2000 and 3000 sales of the Chevrolet SS in the US – a drop in the ocean for a company that frequently counts car sales in hundreds of thousands in annual sales.

The sales target equates to about 250 a month, raising questions as to why Chevrolet launched this month with just 100 in hand and has delivered just 60 when prospective buyers are reportedly singing out for cars.

Even in Australia, Holden's Commodore volume last month was more than 3000 units, not counting utes and the luxury derivative, Caprice.

The US target volume was based on the previous Commodore export program, the Pontiac G8, which met its demise in the global financial crisis when Pontiac was axed.

US publication Automotive quotes Chevrolet's performance car manager John Fitzpatrick as saying the limited stock was a deliberate plan to maintain profitability.

The new car – armed with the 310kW 6.2-litre LS3 Corvette engine also used by Holden Special Vehicles and offered only with a six-speed automatic transmission - is sold in just one specification at $US43,475 ($A45,500), a price that puts it firmly in the prestige category in a country where the average car price is $29,000.

The only options are a sunroof and a full-sized spare wheel, indicating a keep-it-simple policy to aid profitability, which has been dented by a strong Australian dollar.

US reports suggest dealers are asking for more stock, but Chevrolet appears determined to keep the car on a short leash, at least at this stage.

Car fans are also questioning why a broader range of engines is not available, especially the supercharged V8 launched recently in the new F-Series HSV range in Australia.

And that is not out of the question, but is dependent on the success of the current model, according to GM executives.

The other question is what happens to this model line should Holden stop producing the rear-drive Commodore in Australia, as is feared, from about 2016-17.

Mr Reuss, who was instrumental in helping to save Holden in the global financial crisis in 2008-9, sidestepped the question when asked by GoAuto about it at the show, saying: “I am not that close to it. I don't live there so I really don't have a read on the political situation.

“I guess we are going to make Commodores and SS as long as people want. I think there has been an over-thinking of how far we plan to do things.

“We have a great car that has just launched so we are really focused on that just now – really focused on that right now. I will control what we can do here and that is sell SSs.”

The SS has had the advantage of huge publicity via the most popular form of motor racing in America, NASCAR, where it has been GM's sole race model this year.

As well, a Chevrolet SS driven by veteran Jimmy Johnson won the Sprint Cup series, amping up the exposure.

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