The first Pontiac G8 engineering prototypes have been produced at GM Holden’s plant in Elizabeth, South Australia.

The G8 will be sold at Pontiac dealerships in the United States from early 2008 and will be the first North American product to be based on GM’s new global rear wheel drive architecture, developed by the global team based in Australia.

Production is scheduled to commence at the Holden plant late in 2007, bringing the production line to a maximum capacity rate of 620 cars per day.

Holden executive director of manufacturing, Rod Keane said: “The Pontiac G8 highlights GM Holden’s rear-wheel drive expertise. It shows that international borders pose no limits on the creativity and expertise demonstrated by a global team based here in Australia.

General Motors is drawing on Holden’s recognised leadership in rear-wheel drive cars to be able to deliver uniquely tailored vehicles for markets in Australia, the United States, the Middle East and South Africa.

“With exports integral to GM Holden’s future business strategy, the flexibility we have here at the Elizabeth plant is central to achieving that. When full production of the Pontiac G8 gets underway we will be building cars here at Elizabeth for every continent except Antarctica.”

The US export programme will expand the model range at Holden’s Elizabeth plant to 18 domestic and 15 export vehicle lines.

Holden has exported more than 772,000 vehicles over the last 50 years. It has the longest export history but has been beaten on volume in recent years by Toyota, largely with Camry shipments to the Middle East.