It looks like they have cracked the US market such they are becoming a regular exporter into it. The Chicago Motor Show debuted the VE Commodore as the Pontiac G8. The photo below shows Bob Lutz introducing the car to the American motor press.
The pre-show excitement was quite high amongst US motoring enthusiasts. One of the major concerns was that the Pontiac designers would muck up the VE Commodore nose like they did the Monaro’s when it came to the US. So there was almost exhilaration when Lutz gave a sneak preview of the G8’s nose on a news show.
Then there was the leaking of the full size shape of the car. The hall the Chicago Motor Show was housed in had a webcam which was turned on while they were building all the stages prior to the show. The camera was pointed at the Pontiac area. Enthusiasts watched the webcam diligently, and sure enough, they caught a video test of the Pontiac G8 introduction. That was it – the photos were splashed widely across the internet.
The export of the VE Commodore into the US market is a large jump from the old days of establishing Holden as a GM subsidiary, the nationalisation of basket cases like the Leyland Sydney factory or policies such as the Button Plan. Holden has managed to transform itself into a globalisation era company that does world class engineering, such as the Zeta platform, and makes glocalised products which can be exported to the Middle East, South America, UK and North America while still satisfying the domestic market.
It is curious how they got there. The demands of the Australian market meant that a large body rear wheel drive platform was a market necessity. In contrast, the US tried to lower costs by moving entirely to a front wheel drive platform. This was probably helped by the snow and slush road conditions that the north eastern United State faces – and Australia does not. It also meant that when the US decided it needed a rear wheel drive platform, Holden was the only one engineering a solution.
The other important aspect is that General Motors under Bob Lutz have embraced globalisation. Meaning that engineering and production at Holden in Australia and Opel in Germany are being brought into the US market which used to be excessively parochial. A quality product now means increasing export opportunities for those subsidiaries. Great news for Holden who has many variants of the Commodore I am sure they would love to tempt the US market and GM upper-management with.
It is interesting to compare GM’s response with Ford’s. The latter has not embraced globalisation and consequently superb products like Australia’s Ford Falcon, and Europe’s Ford Mondeo and Focus are not making it to the US market. The US motoring press is clamouring for these cars to be on US roads but to no avail. By the same token, globalisation goes both ways, and hopefully Australia sees more of the products the US does well: such as trucks, sports saloons and sports cars rather than just their engines and transmissions.
It is good to see Holden transform itself into a high quality globalised engineering and manufacturing operation that has been taking advantage of modern economic opportunities. As a former 1962 EJ Holden owner I can more than appreciate Holden’s engineering, quality and product advances.