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Holden plots product onslaught

On the way: The YGM1 (left) is due next year while the Astra convertible should be here around Christmas.

The General maintains the rage with an avalanche of car launches

Holden logo11 Jun 2001

HOLDEN continues to trounce the opposition in the 2001 sales race, but worse news is in store for its rivals as the General is gearing up for a massive product onslaught in the second half of the year.

The company's success can be gauged by the fact it has single-handedly accounted for the growth in the market so far this year.

VFACTS figures indicate the year-to-date market stands at 301,519 vehicles - an increase of 9346 units over the same period last year - while Holden's tally has risen by 9732 units.

"We've targeted 170,000 sales for the year and are on target to achieve this," Holden executive director sales and marketing Ross McKenzie said. Holden sold 155,307 vehicles last year.

"We need to sell 15,000 units per month, which is a threshold we haven't achieved before," he said.

Mr McKenzie said the Astra-based Zafira seven-seater - which goes on sale next week - would not be a major contributor, but suggests it will "add completeness to Holden's range".

"Zafira will draw customers from medium wagons, small MPVs and light four-wheel drives." The VX II Commodore and WH II Statesman - due in September - will be the next additions to the range but Holden chairman and CEO Peter Hanenberger said changes to these cars would be minimal as the existing models "have been so well received".

He confirmed the Monaro coupe was on schedule for an end-of-year launch and a production version would be unveiled at the Sydney motor show in October.

Monaro's performance is likely to be lively - especially in V8 form - as Mr Hanenberger said it was lighter than the sedan, although he would not reveal by how much.

Mr Hanenberger also confirmed the Commodore-based four-wheel drive would go on sale by late 2003 or early 2004.

"All the engineering issues have been resolved, we just need to work out its pricing and profitability," he said.

The new HFV6 engine will be ready for export in late 2003, according to Mr Hanenberger, but it will not be introduced in the Commodore until 2004 - halfway through the VY's model cycle.

"We don't want to introduce a new car and a new engine at the same time," Mr Hanenberger said.

He confirmed the engine would be produced in a range of sizes from 3.0-litres upwards and a turbocharged version - believed to produce up to 240kW - would top the range.

WHAT'S AHEAD

Astra City 3-dr: On sale this week priced at $18,990. Same spec as five-door City. Holden aims to sell 500 per month.

VX II Commodore and WH II Statesman: Will be launched in September but do not expect dramatic changes. No word on whether it will gain five-speed auto.

Barina SRi 1.8: On sale September, priced just under $20,000. Alloy wheels, 1.8-litre engine and body kit will make this car an enticing alternative to the likes of the Toyota Echo Sportivo and Mitsubishi Mirage VR-X.

Astra SRi 2.2: Also due in September, this three-door Astra promises true hot-hatch performance, courtesy of its L850 2.2-litre engine. Expect pricing around $29,000 - undercutting the likes of the Peugeot 206 GTi and Renault Clio Sport.

Monaro: Expected on sale around November after Sydney motor show unveiling in October. Base model likely to cost over $50,000.

Astra convertible: Due around Christmas, possibly priced around $38,000. The Bertone-styled convertible will be a useful addition to Holden's line-up, despite its positioning as a low-volume niche model.

Astra coupe: Expected here early next year but details yet to be worked out. "HSV may do it," says Holden general marketing manager Megan Stooke. Engine choices may comprise 2.2 L850 powerplant or 2.0-litre turbo unit with 140kW.

YGM1: Due in mid-2002, this newcomer, which shares its platform with the Suzuki Ignis, will mark Holden's debut in the baby 4WD segment.

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