America's powerful United Auto Workers union in Detroit contemplated industrial action in protest at GM's decision to import the new Pontiac GTO from Holden in Australia but dropped the idea when it learned the planned volume was just 20,000 a year, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported.

"Hyped as the jewel in Holden's crown and the successor to the Pontiac GTO muscle car in the US, the Monaro may not be such a big export deal after all," the newspaper said in a story published on an Australian motoring website.

"…When the UAW found out that just 20,000 Monaros were headed for the US, it effectively said, 'so what?', the SMH added.

The newspaper said that, though 20,000 units a year is 20 percent of the annual capacity of Holden's Adelaide, South Australia factory, "it barely troubles the tally clerks in the Big Three's mega-factories. US car sales last year, including imports, exceeded 17 million."

The newspaper quoted GM USA spokesman Tom Kowaleski as saying that the Australian import "very clearly fills in an existing niche in our product lineup, but is not a replacement for any one of our mass-produced products."

The SMH said Kowaleski added: "The UAW is well aware of the situation and we don't foresee any problems."

Kowaleski also told the Sydney Morning Herald that if GM were to import 150,000 of the Commodore-based Monaros from Australia instead of building them in the US, "that would be a whole different situation".

The SMH said that GM USA wanted to get the Pontiac GTO-badged Monaro as soon as possible. The car would debut at the Detroit motor show next January and go on sale soon after.

When asked by the SMH how American consumers would react to a classic US muscle car being built 'Down Under', Kowaleski responded: "We don't think [it's an issue] because the piece of the whole product that's really going to stand out is the good old American-made 5.7-litre V8".

Holden now imports US-made GM V8 engines to install in its top-end Commodore models (which are also exported in left-hand drive form to the Middle East and South America with Chevrolet badging) after stopping Australian production of the locally-developed V8s it had used for almost three decades. understands that Holden could not easily make the ageing V8 comply with ever tougher emission laws in Australia and its strongly developing export markets, nor could the comparatively small GM outpost justify the cost of locally developing and producing an all-new V8 engine line.

"We're still working on exactly what we're going to do, in terms of what engine we're going to put in the [Pontiac GTO] but it will be a 5.7-litre V8," GM USA's Kowaleski told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The SMH added that GM 'product czar' Bob Lutz has apparently 'fast-tracked' budget approval for changes to the Australian-designed Holden Monaro that will transform the stylish coupe into a Pontiac GTO meeting US regulatory and market requirements.

The first requirement is left-hand-drive, of course, (Australia is right-hand drive) but that shouldn't be too difficult as Holden already builds the four-door Commodore sedan and stretched Statesman/Caprice derivatives in left-hook form.

However, the Sydney Morning Herald said that the GTO, will look different from the two-door Monaro coupe which is closely related to the Commodore sedan.

The Pontiac version is likely to have front body panels and an interior borrowed from the updated VY Commodore due out in Australia in August, the newspaper added.