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Holden has best-ever Middle East export year

Star car: The long-wheelbase Caprice is popular in the Middle East.

Holden joins Toyota in concerted Middle East push

Holden logo1 Feb 2007

WITH GM Holden soon expected to ramp up its exports with a multi-million dollar United States deal, the Melbourne-based car-maker has managed its best-ever export year to the Middle East.

Last year it exported more than 31,000 cars to the region, a ten-fold increase since GM Holden started small-scale exports there in 1998.

Buoyed by the success of the all new VE and WM ranges which are sold as Chevrolet Lumina and Chevrolet Caprice respectively, sales increased by 591 above the previous year.

Despite GM Holden’s stellar year Toyota continues to garner the lion’s share of exports to the Middle East with about 60,000 Camrys being sold there last year.

For GM Holden, the long wheelbase Caprice continues to be the star car in the region, representing 64 per cent of its 31,147 sales there last year.

The company’s executive director sales, marketing and aftersales Alan Batey, believes that the locally built cars were perfect for the demanding Middle Eastern market.

13 center imageBefore Holden started its export program the cars were engineered specifically for Middle East notorious high-speed conditions, featuring heavy duty engine cooling, air conditioning and dust sealing for that market.

The success of GM Holden’s export push was reflected last month when the Chevrolet Caprice won the best luxury car award in the Middle East Autocar Awards, beating the Volvo S80 V8 all-wheel drive and Lexus ES350.

GM Holden has said exports would increasingly become an integral part of its core business as it underpinned local production with a strong export business.

Apart from the imminent US export announcement, the company is expected to also add the UK to its export agenda.

Total export sales for 2006 reached 46,074, following a record-breaking 60,518 in 2005.

The change reflects the end of the Pontiac GTO program in June 2006 and a one-off sales program to China and South Korea in 2005 which boosted that year’s export total by 7854 cars.

Mr Batey said 2005 was an outstanding year for exports and "we followed that up with some ambitious targets for ‘06. Thanks to our strong performance in the Middle East we were able to beat those targets comfortably".

GM Holden vehicles were sold last year under the Chevrolet brand (Brazil, Middle East and South Africa), Pontiac (United States), and Holden (New Zealand).

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