CAMARO replaces iconic Monaro
Australia is definitely getting the Chevrolet Camaro coupe to replace the Holden Monaro, reports PAUL GOVER.
BUT the good news from the US on the coupe is balanced by the timing, which has slipped a year to 2012.
The right-hand-drive Camaro is already well under development by the engineering team at GM Holden, which has done all the main work on converting it from a motor-show dream to an American reality, but production timing has slipped along with the Camaro convertible.
Both cars are two years behind their original schedule, according to General Motors’ product chief Bob Lutz.
``I’m confident it’s going to happen. It’s just going to be a little bit later,’’ he said.
His words on the car contradict, and overrule, the official situation at GM Holden.
``We haven’t confirmed the Camaro at all,’’ GM Holden president Mark Reuss said.
But even he knows the car is coming, as well as the delays that have forced a rethink on the timing of the Camaro program beyond the American coupe, which will hit the road towards the end of the year as a 2010 model.
Mr Lutz said the change had been forced by the financial troubles at GM Holden, which have resulted in program delays or cancellations.
GM is not even confident it has enough cash to turn the second of its extended-range concept cars, the Cadillac Converj set for 2010, from a star at this year’s Detroit Show into a production model.
``Some programs, we’ve accelerated, especially for the US market,’’ Mr Lutz said.
``Other stuff we can’t really accelerate because that means more money. In fact, in some cases we’ve done the opposite to manage cash flow.’’
He said the Camaro program had been hit by the decisions.
``We looked at investments that we could defer because they were not critical or vital to the short-term survival of the company. To be totally honest, one of the things we pushed out a little bit was the Camaro convertible,’’ Mr Lutz said.
``Initially, it was going to be a year after the coupe, now that’s two years. Another thing we deferred was the right-hand drive version.’’
Mr Lutz is still committed to the car, just as he is a huge fan of the VE Commodore and Pontiac G8 cloned from the Aussie family favourite, but said it would take time to get the Camaro to Australia.
At the same time, he sees huge potential demand for the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Private importers are bringing the car to Australia in surprising numbers for local conversions and sales.
``You’d be amazed. ZR1s are heading for Australia like there is no tomorrow,’’ he said.
Mr Lutz rules out any official import program, but said the Australian demand for the ZR1 was proof his company was doing a good job and had the models to survive and prosper beyond today’s cash crisis.
Two years away: The Chevrolet Camaro coupe will be exported to Australia to replace the beloved Holden Monaro two-door.
Final coupe: The last Holden Monaro built in 2006 was later sold on eBay to a Central Queensland businessman for $187,600.
Concept 60: GM-Holden’s vision of a modern-day Monaro has been shelved but starred at last year’s Melbourne motor show.