The Australian General Motors operation Holden plans to introduce at least four more variations of its large Commodore line as it targets Toyota, the only serious threat to its market leadership ‘down under’, the website drive.com.au reported.

Drive.com.au said the new models are expected to all be four-wheel- or all-wheel-drive vehicles, although at least one will be destined for left-hand-drive export markets.

The company is also expecting to land a big export contract from China within two years, the website added.

Drive.com.au said Holden's attack on the 4WD sector is designed to keep pace with changing customer preferences while undermining Toyota's position as the leading seller of commercial vehicles, a position based firmly on Toyota's leadership in the Australian 4WD/SUV sector.

The website said the four new variants would raise to 13 the number of different Commodores coming off the Elizabeth, South Australia, assembly line when body styles and left-hand drive versions [for the Middle East and South America] are taken into account.

Drive.com.au said Holden already makes a sedan, a long wheelbase sedan, a station wagon, a coupe and a utility [pickup] on the Commodore platform, all but the wagon in both right and left hand drive.

The website said it believed Holden is preparing a 4WD wagon and perhaps a 4WD pickup or cab-chassis vehicle aimed at Toyota's strong sales to farmers.

According to drive.com.au, Holden chairman and managing director Peter Hanenberger said the four new variants would be introduced over the next 18 months, making Elizabeth one of the most flexible car plants in the world.

“The key to Holden's success will be continuing to develop niche variants at low cost and in a highly flexible manner,” he said at the Queensland University of Technology last Friday, according to drive.com.au.

The website said Holden unveiled its SSX all-wheel-drive hatchback version of the Commodore at the recent Sydney Motor Show.

Clearly there are more variants to follow. Meanwhile, it now seems almost certain Holden’s V8-powered Monaro coupe derivative of the Commodore will be sold in the UK and Europe following a favourable reception from the press and potential customers, and strong ‘affirmative’ hints from Vauxhall’s Australian chief Kevin Wale.

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