General Motors has announced that they have struck a deal with the Australian government to continue Holden as-is through the year 2022.
Holden, as you may know, created most of Pontiac’s RWD-based lineup in the 21st Century. They were responsible for the Pontiac GTO and Pontiac G8, and manufactured all of both models in Australia as a captive import. Holden is also credited for developing the Zeta platform jointly shared between six GM models worldwide (Caprice (PPV), Commodore, Statesman, Ute, Camaro, and G8).
The brand was not under threat, Holden rivals Ford (Australia) as one of the two top-selling brands with domestic roots. Australian consumers have been looking for more eco-friendly options, facing higher gas prices, but still admire larger, higher-performance sedans. However, what was at-stake was Holden’s independence from other divisions of General Motors. GM asked the Australian government for deep tax breaks and incentives, under the threat of converting Holden into a brand in retail image only. GM had proposed not only dropping GM engineering resources, but also dropping manufacturing in the country.
This is important for bringing back Pontiac, as Holden could easily leverage the Pontiac brand to offer premium captive imports in the future, should economic conditions continue to improve. Holden manufactures Liquid Petrolium Gas (Propane)-based variants of the Commodore, in both LPG only, and Gas/LPG combinations. This enables the Austrialian version of the Pontiac G8 to deliver over 350 horsepower, and refuel for less than $2.50 per gallon.
For example, an LPG-based Pontiac G8 captive import could conceivably receive AT-PZEV certification in California, and be granted HOV lane access. This is especially possible with recent adaptations of Holden’s Zeta platform to support the 2.0L turbocharged Ecotec engine, capable of delivering between 270 and 300 horsepower. Such an engine is already slated for use in future Chevrolet Camaros, and the Pontiac G8 is already DOT and NHTSA certified.
It’s really hard to understate this news. Ford recently all but announced that it was discontinuing the lone RWD sedan in its family, the Ford Falcon, at the end of its current generation in 2015-2016. GM clearly sees the potential of Holden as an independent platform, focused on doing what it does best; contributing DNA that other GM divisions have faced attrition with, due to small-car priorities abroad.
We’ll be resuming the rollout of our Pontiac Green Cars Initiative, offering GM the consumer support behind the notion of a niche, eco-friendly Pontiac, positioned between Chevrolet and Buick. Pontiac could easily deliver these captive imports today, with MSRPs that would sell cars to a market that is largely untapped in America today; those looking for LPG/CNG cars in bi-fuel format. And, such offerings would not cannibalize sales between GM’s other brands, and could be sold in Buick/GMC dealers that previously sold Pontiac models.
In short, we’re back folks! We couldn’t think of greater news than Holden Engineering’s retention to kick off a comeback of our own…