Editorial: Does Australia want a Holden Camaro?

Editorial: Does Australia want a Holden Camaro?

If GM is looking for a business case to determine whether or not it should officially introduce the Chevrolet Camaro to Australia, badged as a Holden Camaro, all it has to do is look what the competition has done.

Since Ford Australia introduced the Mustang to local shores it has been a business bonanza. Consumers are flocking to Ford dealers around the country to snap up their slice of blue-badged muscle. It’s become so popular that it actually outsells some of the mainstream vehicles, including hatches and SUVs, currently on sale in the country.

So far this year Ford Australia has sold a whopping 6715 examples of the ‘Stang (August VFACTS), up 75.1 per cent compared with the same period in 2017. And this is double impressive when you consider Ford could have actually sold more than this if it were able to secure more production numbers from the US.

At this rate, the Mustang is currently in front of the Ford Focus (4121 units), the Toyota Aurion (2113), and even SUVs like the Ford Everest (3023) and Honda CR-V (4966). As a result, the Mustang is the most popular sports car on the market, outshining all other sporty models including the Toyota 86, Hyundai Veloster, and the fleet of two-door Mercedes and BMW models. This strongly indicates there is a demand for a big, American muscle car in the current market.

The Chevrolet Camaro shares similar characteristics as the Ford Mustang, in terms of the on-paper equation that the accountants can look at. It’s a large coupe and convertible with rear-wheel drive, and available with a manual or automatic transmission. Both feature some of the latest technologies, however, the Ford is a bit behind in the safety department having only achieved a three-star ANCAP crash safety rating.

We’d like to think there are just as many GM fans as Ford fans in Australia, if not slightly more GM fans. It would be totally reasonable to assume a Holden Camaro would attract a similar if not greater interest than the Mustang. We’ll let you be the judge of that one though.

So, what does GM need to do to get the Camaro over here? Well, a right-hand drive conversion obviously has to take place. But it’s understood GM isn’t going to start producing right-hand drive models at its US factories until the next-generation arrives around 2022. This is where HSV and parent Walkinshaw are set to come in.

HSV has been busy converting Holden Commodores into almost completely different machines at its factory in Victoria. It has more than enough tools and resources to get a right-hand drive production line going. But because of this increase in overheads the Holden Camaro is expected to be slightly pricer than the Mustang.

How much more? Well, rumours suggest it will command around $80,000, compared with the $50,000-60,000 Mustang. Don’t fret though, the Camaro comes with more powerful engines and is available with a wider range of performance accessories. This should help attract buyers. The only problem left is how many units could the HSV factories build? Will it be able to keep up? That’s something we’ll have to come back to in due course.

As far as we know the Holden Camaro will land in Australia some time in the second half of next year. According to reports around 1000 units are expected to be sold per year, at least until the next-generation comes along in around four years.

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