EXCLUSIVE: AUSTRALIA: US and UK GM dealers may sell Holden's Monaro coupe
US Chevrolet and UK Vauxhall dealers could soon be selling Australian-built Holden Monaro coupes, writes Mike Duffy.
An independent importer currently sells a sports V8 version of the Commodore sedan in the UK.
Holden is currently studying the modifications necessary for the Monaro to be shipped to the US for sale through Chevrolet dealers.
But exports to America and England in significant numbers could go ahead only if Holden were to introduced a long-awaited third shift at its Elizabeth, South Australia, plant.
Currently, only 32 Monaros a day are being produced at Elizabeth - a build rate which is nowhere close to satisfying local demand.
GM vice president in charge of global product development, Bob Lutz, visited Australia four weeks ago and announced he wanted the Monaro and the Commodore Ute (pickup truck) for sale in America. Lutz said the Monaro could be a strong niche model selling around 20,000 units a year.
Separately, Vauxhall managing director Kevin Wale, a former Holden director, said he "would love to import the Monaro and a V8 Commodore.
"We know the cars well and have received a inquiries for them so there would not be a need to engage in expensive customer research.
"Both cars would make really strong niche market models for us - the only problem is that the Monaro in particular is not exactly ready supply and I guess we would have to get in line behind Bob Lutz."
Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motors Australia has been given the go-ahead by its Japanese parent to develop for the American market a left hand drive version of a four wheel drive Magna performance sedan it will launch in Australia later this year.
Mitsubishi president and CEO Tom Phillips believes up to 15,000 4WD Magnas - worth around $A600 million - could be sold in America annually after launch in late 2003.
Exports will also be aimed at the Middle East, a market Mitsubishi recently opened up for front drive Magnas.