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Holden, HSV extend relationship for five years

Cargo bed-fellows: Holden’s plans to bring right-hook Chevys like the Silverado to Australia needed an engineering partner, while HSV needed to replace its now-defunct modified Commodore business plan.

New deal between Holden and HSV takes both companies into uncharted territory

HSV logo8 Dec 2017

HOLDEN and Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) will extend their 30-year relationship to at least 2023, as the two companies move into new chapters in their respective histories.

Announced at the launch of the HSV Colorado SportsCat, the deal revolves around right-hand-drive conversions of Chevrolet products, as well as the continued production of enhanced vehicles.

“We re-signed after the end point because of the current Commodore. We just signed off on new agreement,” Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard told journalists at the recent launch of the Holden Equinox in Queensland, adding that the new agreement was for five years but with options to extend.

Crucially, the wording of the announcement – and indeed the launch of a dual-cab pick-up by HSV with no additional power gains – points to plans that extend past modifying vehicles for performance.

“The focus of the new agreement is to utilise HSV’s famed design, engineering, manufacturing and marketing skills across a broader range of product, giving customers access to some of the very best vehicles from across the GM empire,” reads the statement.

Vehicle enhancement will continue to be one of two main focuses for HSV, which will also move into a purpose-built facility just up the road from its home of 30 years, in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton. The Colorado is the first car to be launched by HSV following the end of Australian production of the Holden Commodore which will be an imported model from next year.

The second part of HSV’s remit is to convert a range of Chevrolet-branded vehicles sourced and sold by Holden.

These initially include the sixth-generation Camaro and the larger Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck, while other cars – possibly including the smaller Silverado 1500 pick-up and wagon range – are on the horizon.

The agreement also encompasses the way that the cars produced by the partnership will be sold.

Mr Bernhard said the existing HSV dealer network will be “progressively updated” to incorporate Chevrolet branding.

“We are working through a process with HSV on what the distribution will continue to be through Holden dealers,” said Mr Bernhard.

“(The Camaro) will go to the HSV network, so not every Holden dealer will get one,” said Holden marketing director Mark Harland at the launch of the SportsCat. “We're currently going through working with Tim and the team and looking at some of the other applications.”

There are currently 58 HSV dealers in Australia, and six in New Zealand. Mr Jackson confirmed that the total numbers may change in the wake of Holden’s decision in June to not renew dealership agreements with 30 of its current locations.

“There was a couple who were impacted, but that was no real dramas from our perspective,” Mr Jackson told GoAuto. “So, in terms of ours (dealers) I think we might have lost two, but over the course of the next twelve months that might pick up a little bit.”

Mr Harland also reiterated that the incoming GM products would not be rebadged as Holdens, although he also intimated that the dealership issue is yet to be totally resolved.

“In any kind of marketing materials these will be Chevrolet products, iconic Chevrolet products,” he said. “You could put a Holden badge on these it’s just that people wouldn’t believe it.

“We’ll also have Chevy branding the Holden HSV dealers. Those dealers that settle ... that are currently part of the HSV and any others that are close to that. Those will be branding at the dealership with Chevrolet.”

He denied that that Chevrolet branding was the thin edge of a wedge designed to replace Holden branding in Australia.

“Holden is here to stay,” he said. “And Chevrolet plays a role for the rear-wheel-drive V8 enthusiasts. We have the heavy-duty pick-up capability as well Chevrolet brings that into the family, if you will. But Holden has a place and there’s no plans to change that branding whatsoever.”

Mr Harland, who said that Holden needed a proven partner to execute right-hand-drive capability, praised HSV’s engineering prowess.

“We needed a partner… with the capability for exciting products that we may not otherwise have access,” he said. “So it’s an exciting partnership for us. And it actually not only opens up a whole bunch of opportunities for HSV as a company, but it will hopefully open up a bunch of opportunities for us as well as Holden. And to Chevrolet, for other exciting products.”

Mr Jackson agreed, adding that he believed Holden recognised the importance of the relationship going forward.

“We’re in it together as opposed to apart,” he said. “Now I think there’s a healthy tension in that relationship ... Holden definitely should be pushing us to do better ... so it’s always a lot of pressure to do the job and there’s opportunities. We saw the opportunity of moving forward.”

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