Econ­omy fo­cus puts hot Holden on hold

It’s all bad news for fans of the Coupe60, writes JAMES STAN­FORD in New York

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

THE Coupe60 project has been given the thumbs down by Gen­eral Mo­tors global prod­uct de­vel­op­ment vice-pres­i­dent Bob Lutz.

Even be­fore Holden has con­ducted its own busi­ness case on the new-age Monaro, Lutz says it is not go­ing to hap­pen, at least in the medium term.

‘‘The coupe has had a sen­sa­tional re­ac­tion and ev­ery­body who has seen it falls in love with it,’’ Lutz said at last week’s New York Mo­tor Show.

‘‘The prob­lem is it’s one of those projects like the Corvette C7 that has to be put on the back burner as we wres­tle with this fuel-econ­omy equa­tion.’’

Lutz says re­search and de­vel­op­ment re­sources would have to be di­rected away from sporty cars.

‘‘We are go­ing to be in­vent­ing so many hy­brid sys­tems for so many ve­hi­cles and go­ing to trans­mis­sions with a lot more gears than six, all in the name of meet­ing fuel-econ­omy tar­gets.

‘‘What has to be de­ferred is the stuff that we, as en­thu­si­asts, would all like to do — like that Coupe,’’ he says.

For­mer Holden de­sign chief Mike Simcoe, who is now the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of GM ex­te­rior de­sign, says the Coupe60 was un­likely to get up.

‘‘There is no plan, but, you know, stranger things have hap­pened,’’ Simcoe says.

Jim Bun­nell, the gen­eral man­ager of Buick, GMC and Pontiac, says that thoughGMhad no ac­tive plan for the Coupe60, it had re­ceived a lot of feed­back about the con­cept that was re­vealed in Melbourne last month.

‘‘It cer­tainly gen­er­ated a lot of in­ter­est. We had deal­ers call us to say, ‘That is the car, let’s do it’,’’ Bun­nell says.

There had also been hope that the VE Com­modore Sport­wagon could fol­low the sedan and Ute to the US, but th­ese hopes have also been dashed.

Se­nior GM ve­hi­cle-plan­ning ex­ec­u­tives say the Pontiac line-up was al­ready full with the G8 sedan and G8 ute and there was no room for a third Aus­tralian model.

There is also some doubt as to how well the wagon would be re­ceived in a coun­try that still prefers tra­di­tional SUVs.

The next Aus­tralian Holden with a chance of be­ing seen in the US in some form is the long­wheel-base States­man.

Too hot: the GM fo­cus on fuel econ­omy has pushed cars such as the Coupe60 out of the pro­duc­tion frame.

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