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First look: Veritas a veritable Statesman

Made in Australia: The new Daewoo Veritas FC 360 sedan.

GM Holden announces the resumption of Statesman-based exports to South Korea

5 Sep 2008

GM Holden will recommence exports of a long-wheelbase model to South Korea after a three-year break.

However, this time, it is the VE Commodore-based long-wheelbase WM Statesman/Caprice rather than the VT-VZ Commodore-derived WL version.

Dubbed the Daewoo Veritas FC 360 (for First Class, with ‘360’ denoting the engine size), it will be built alongside its Holden-based twins as well as the rest of the VE range at GM's Elizabeth assemply plant in South Australia.

Holden says it is sending 300 examples, and will judge how many more to export to South Korea on the basis of customer response.

According to Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss, South Korea is receiving the Elizabeth-built Statesman/Caprice – rather than the Holden-developed but Chinese-built Buick Park Avenue – because Holden is GM’s “home room” for its global rear-wheel drive chassis architecture.

“Because we are good at it,” Mr Reuss told GoAuto.

“This vehicle represents a significant export program for GM Holden and is a prime example of how our recognised expertise in rear-wheel drive performance continues to be utilised by General Motors globally,” he stated.

The Veritas was first seen in public as the Daewoo L4X concept car at the 2007 Seoul motor show. Even back then, it was a very thinly disguised WM Holden.

13 center imageAccording to Holden chief designer Tony Stolfo, external changes did not involve any modifications to existing sheetmetal, and include a new front fascia (grille, bumpers and air-intake) that is required to comply with local regulations.

One of its main selling points is what Holden describes as “segment-leading legroom” in the Korean market.

The Veritas will also boast the massaging rear seats that were developed by Holden for the Buick Park Avenue.

As these airline-style reclining seats required some changes to the rear floorpan, we can expect the some variants of the Statesman/Caprice to receive them in the not-too-distant future.

Other Veritas features include electrically-adjustable head restraints and rear-sited LCD screens and headsets.

Under the bonnet is a variation of the 3.6-litre Alloytec petrol V6, delivering around 185kW of power at 6600rpm and approximately 334Nm of torque at 2800rpm.

Drive is directed to the rear wheels via the five-speed automatic gearbox that is familiar to owners of the Commodore SV6, Omega and Statesman/Caprice V6.

South Korea joins the list of other overseas destinations for the WM-based sedans, which – since being unveiled in Melbourne in late July 2006 – has been exported as a Chevrolet Caprice to Middle East countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Joining Mr Reuss in announcing Holden's latest export deal were federal trade minister Simon Crean and his Victorian state counterpart Theo Theophanous.

Calling it “timely”, Mr Crean indicated that it is industry-led export programs like the W200 Veritas that will help pave the implementation of the government’s proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea.

However, the Labour minister refused to reveal an estimated time of arrival for the South Korean FTA. He also declined to comment on whether Ford or Toyota will join Holden in exporting to South Korea.

Toyota already exports the Victorian-built Camry, while there is speculation the next-generation Ford Focus small car and its derivatives may also spearhead Ford Australia’s future export plans.

Mr Theophanous added that it also helped secure jobs in the Australian car industry.

However, Mr Reuss would not divulge the specific number of jobs at Holden and/or its suppliers that would have dried up without the Veritas export plan.

For his part, he did say that Holden fully welcomed an FTA with Korea, stating that it will assist in Holden’s plans to achieve a 50 per cent production export goal sooner.

“Cars we build here in Australia are being exported to every continent except Antarctica for brands including Holden, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Vauxhall and GM Daewoo,” he stated.

“We have always stressed that exports are an essential part of our business to ensure we not only survive, but prosper.

“Veritas is our entry into high-end, chauffeur-driven luxury vehicles tailored specifically for the South Korean market.

“It is a testament to our engineers, designers and the efficiency and flexibility of our plant that we are able to produce vehicles that satisfy the demands of both local and overseas markets, in both left-hand and right-hand drive.” Mr Reuss went on to state that expectations for the Veritas are extremely high.

“In fact having seen the vehicle they are convinced that, in the words of Michael Grimaldi, GM Daewoo president and CEO, 'it will be responsible for redefining the large sedan market in Korea',” he added.

In 2005 nearly 2000 WL Statesman/Caprice sedans were exported to South Korea from Elizabeth.

Using the Daewoo Statesman badge, it utilised 2.8-litre and 3.6-litre petrol versions of Holden’s locally-manufactured "High Feature" V6, and was also sent to china as the Buick Royaum.

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