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Top-selling Camaro a boost for Holden

Soaring sales: Australian-designed Camaro overtook the Mustang to be a top-seller in 2010.

Chevy’s sports coupe finally outsells its five-decade long Mustang foe in America

Chevrolet logo18 Jan 2011

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in DETROIT

CHEVROLET’S Australian-designed Camaro has finally toppled the long-dominant Ford Mustang as the best-selling sports car in North America for the first time since 1985.

The victory is a welcome boost for Holden and, according to company chairman Mike Devereux, reflects how General Motors has become a truly international company over the last few years.

Speaking to GoAuto in Detroit last week, Mr Devereux said the Camaro’s market acceptance is yet another confirmation of the world class work that his Australian staff is performing on a daily basis for GM around the world.

The Camaro outsold the Mustang 81,299 units to 73,716 last year, just a year after the Chevy ‘pony car’ returned to the US market in 2009 after a seven-year hiatus.

“It’s been a phenomenal success in America – Camaro’s outsold the Mustang for the first time in about 25 years,” Mr Devereux said. “And that’s a big deal.

“(It is a feather in the hat for Holden) because the team was responsible for the design inside and out, and all the engineering work.

“And the Camaro is built at the Oshawa plant … meaning that the all-American sports car was designed and engineered in Australia and built in Canada. That’s the new global business – and Americans can’t get enough of it.

“At Holden (in Port Melbourne) we have a Camaro on the lot and we have such passionate car people that, when they walk past that car in the morning on their way to their jobs, they feel proud of it.’

137 center imageHolden Chairman Mike Devereux (middle) is proud of the Camaro's Australian connection.

Mr Devereux said Holden was doing a lot of unseen work for the GM world, including concept cars and production cars like the Cruze hatch that will be built in Adelaide, and will also be built and sold in many other countries.

“There’s stuff we’re working on that isn’t Camaro that will never be sold in Australia, and that’s our approach to design and engineering a car … there’s always work done at Fishermans Bend that will never see the light of day in Australia because GM is a global company.

“(The Camaro’s US market success) is a big pat on the back for our people.” GM plans to keep the Camaro’s marketing momentum going in North America over the next two years with the newly launched convertible version and the long-rumoured Z28 high-performance model.

Meanwhile, GM vice-president of design Ed Welburn Jr told GoAuto that his team is already thinking long and hard about what the next-generation Camaro will be.

To stay ahead of the Mustang in the longer term, Mr Welburn believes the next Camaro will need to look different to the retro-inspired lines of the existing version, which closely apes the 1967 original.

“For the next Camaro, I think it needs to be a significant step forward (visually),” he said, adding that pony car buyers may have become bored with the Ford’s evolutionary styling over the years.

“The Mustang has always just been a series of small steps – and I can tell you that this won’t happen with the next Camaro.” Mr Welburn would not be drawn into commenting on what Holden’s role will be on the design of the future sports car.

However, he agrees that the standing within GM of Holden and Australians like Mike Simcoe (Holden’s executive director of design for General Motors International Operations) has risen even higher as a result of the current Camaro’s success.

“They understand how a car should look. There’s a difference between styling a car and getting to the fundamentals of what a car is all about.”

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