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Holden’s China deal confirmed

Road to China: The Holden Statesman will go on-sale in China as a Buick Royaum.

Holden wins another export deal with the Statesman heading to China

20 Dec 2004

HOLDEN’S global spread will take an important step next March when a Buick luxury model closely based on the Aussie-built Statesman and Caprice goes on-sale in China.

The long wheelbase Royaum will initially go be available in about 20 Chinese cities including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen and then progressively introduced nationally through more than 250 Buick dealers.

It will be powered by the now familiar 190kW/340Nm 3.6-litre Alloytec engine initially, before a 155kW/250Nm 2.8-litre version is added later in 2005. Both engine choices will be mated to five-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic shift.

Compared to the donor vehicle, the Royaum will be differentiated only by such exterior details as badging and the grille, while the Buick badge on the steering wheel is an obvious change inside.

13 center imageEquipment includes the latest Bosch ABS system, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), traction control and electronic stability programme (ESP).

Inside is a DVD and home-theatre audio system with individual screens for rear seat passengers.

Neither Buick or Holden is willing to talk sales figures for the deal, but forecasts “in the thousands” are being mooted in the world’s number three car market, which topped 4.6 million sales last year.

Primary targets for the car will be rear seat passengers such as Chinese government officials and business elites.

Royaum comes from a French word which reflects the Chinese words 'Rong', meaning sense of duty, and 'Yu', representing high social position and authority.

In the longer term, the strategy will probably be for manufacture of the Royaum to shift to China as demand for the car and the overall market itself grows.

That’s the same plan being employed in the deal Holden has with GM’s Korean affiliate Daewoo, where rebadged Statesmans will initially be exported from the Elizabeth (SA) plant from early 2005, before local production comes on-stream some years down the track.

Apart from the forthcoming China and Korea deals, Holden already exports to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand in the Asia-Pacific region.

It also exports short and long wheelbase cars to the Middle East as Chevrolets and the Monaro to the UK as a Vauxhall and to the USA as a reborn Pontiac GTO.

Holden will export more than 50,000 vehicles in 2004, and although there are no official estimates given for 2005 as yet, that total can be expected to rise.

Holden has spent four years on the Chinese deal, negotiating with Chinese automotive executives and conducting a range of product clinics in 2000 and detailed customer focus groups earlier this year.

Holden chairman and managing director, Denny Mooney, said he believed the Buick luxury cars would strike a chord in a market in which rear seat passengers, rather than the drivers, were the target audience.

"The Statesman and Caprice have a deserved reputation in Australia and the Middle East as the benchmark sedans for executives spending their time in the back of the car," Mr Mooney said.

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