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Chevrolet Blazer hits Aussie roadblock

No RHD and limited sales scope means Holden is off limits for Chevy Blazer

17 Oct 2018

HOLDEN says the edgy new Chevrolet Blazer SUV is unlikely to hit Australian dealerships any time soon due to left-hand-drive-only production, with the company instead focusing on more pressing issues relating to increasing its market share.
Slotting between the Equinox and Traverse in its US Chevrolet range, the new Blazer remains high on Holden’s want rather than need list for Australia.
However, the return-on-investment, which would involve tens of millions of dollars in right-hand-drive development, local engineering testing and Australian Design Rules certification, mean it is not viable given the small volume that a large five-seater SUV would attract.
“It’s just not available to use because it’s only left-hand drive,” said one Holden insider who asked to remain anonymous. “We’d love to offer the Blazer, and it’s a good-looking thing, but the numbers just don’t stack up.”  
GM Holden chairman and managing director Dave Buttner said that the company was lucky to be able to draw models from GM’s global portfolio.
“There’s a whole lot of product in the GM stable,” he told GoAuto at a media launch in Melbourne this week.
“And at this particular juncture we have a plan of record which locks us into about 2022/2023, and as we’re sitting down working out our strategic plan to make us sustainably successful in the future, then we’ll be looking at the current product portfolio, and the way the Australian marketplace is moving over time.
“So, the decisions on the product further beyond 2022/2023 – ones that we are yet to make – they’ll be very much dependent upon where we see the market going, how we see the brand being represented in the marketplace, who we see as being our customers and their profile.
“So having such a choice, in terms of having to pick from a whole host of brands within the GM stable, you really have a world of cars available to you, so it’s just a matter of choosing the right ones that are suitable to your marketplace and the way the market is moving over time.”
Mr Buttner added that Holden has more pressing issues at the moment than bringing in lower-volume models.
“The Blazer’s a great car. But honestly, at this stage, we want to make sure we get a robust, strategic plan. We don’t want to jump at shadows or the next great-looking thing. That’s not the way we want to do our planning. 
“We have volume aspirations, and we want to underpin that with a solid strategy, to ensure we have a great product, we’ve got great customer service at every touchpoint in the value chain. We’ve just got to make sure that we’ve got a solid plan before we start cherry picking what would be nice and what wouldn’t be nice.
“There’s still a lot of work we’ve got to do yet.”
Designed under the direction of former Holden styling boss Mike Simcoe, the shapely Blazer was unveiled in North America in June. 
It is about the same size as the Ford Edge – which is about to be launched in Australia as the Endura – with both models sharing a similar five-seater only configuration. 
No doubt Holden will be watching the sales performance of the diesel-only Endura – which is priced from $44,990 (before on-road costs) for the front-drive Trend to $67,990 for the flagship Titanium all-wheel drive – closely before making any further decision on the Blazer.
Made in Mexico, the Blazer sits on a derivation of the C1 platform that underpins the GMC/Holden Acadia, and includes its 3.6-litre HF High Feature V6 petrol engine and nine-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.
Despite this connection, however, our Holden insider revealed that the Blazer’s completely different body and interior would still require a huge amount of work, time and money to have it ready for Australia.
“Even though they both share the same architecture and powertrain, it’s still going to end up costing between 50 and 70 per cent of the price of getting the Acadia over the line here in Australia,” our source revealed. 
Along with the Edge/Endura, the Blazer will compete with other large five-seater SUVs like the Nissan Murano and Jeep Grand Cherokee in North America when it is released in January next year. 
There have been two main generations of Blazer in the past, and both were ladder-frame chassis truck-based wagons with some off-road capability – the K5 series from 1969 and the larger S10 series from 1982, with the latter undergoing a complete redesign in 1995 until sales were discontinued in 2005 in the United States and six years later in Brazil.

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