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VE wagon inspired by Europe

Practical offering: Richard Ferlazzo drives a Holden Adventra.

Holden's VE Commodore sedan will morph into ute and wagon bodystyles - eventually

15 Aug 2006

HOLDEN'S exterior design chief Richard Ferlazzo, may have penned the superb Efijy concept coupe but he's a station wagon man.

Mr Ferlazzo confirmed last week that both the VE wagon and ute designs had been finished, even though GoAuto understands they still have not been signed off for production.

The chief exterior designer of the VE sedan confirmed that the VE wagon was as sharply styled as its sedan sibling.

Mr Ferlazzo, who is currently driving an Adventra and admits to having a soft spot for station wagons, purely because of their practicality, admits he's a big fan of the Chrysler 300C Touring and Alfa Romeo 159 Sportswagon.

He believes their wedge designs, small rear window glass and rear doors that cut into the roofline were trends that would work well with a VE wagon.

However, he is not about to reveal which direction Holden has gone with the VE ute and wagon, which are expected to arrive late next year and early 2008 respectively.

Apart from the expanded VE line-up, Holden is also working on a turbo-diesel VE.

Holden chief, Denny Mooney, confirmed last week that Holden engineers were evaluating a diesel-engine VE but it was still some years away from production.

GoAuto understands GM Holden is looking at a capacity of 2.5-litres or 3.0-litres for the turbo-diesel, which is not due to market for at least another three years.

US export hope for SS
DENNY Mooney is convinced VE SS and SS V sedans would make a good export proposition to the United States, badged as Pontiacs.

"But it's very difficult to sell a vehicle or program until people can drive one," he said.

"Now that people at GM are driving VE they're really impressed." Mr Mooney said that unlike the Pontiac GTO, which went into the niche coupe segment in the US, a Pontiac sedan with Holden attributes would pitch into a sedan market "20 times bigger than the coupe market".

Holden had originally forecast selling 18,000 GTOs a year but in reality it sold less - around 13,000 a year.

"So the reality is that if this car (SS) went over there it would do well," he said.

"A rear-wheel drive, performance sedan at an affordable price? It doesn't exist in the US.

"The closest would be the Chrysler 300C or the Dodge Charger." Mr Mooney said that despite the Australian dollar being stronger than when the original US-Monaro export program was planned back in 2001, he still believed US exports were viable, despite being a challenge to profitability.

"Because we've designed this car (VE) we took the US crash standards into consideration," he said.

"We've done a lot with the structure to make it compatible with US standards. So the amount of work and the cost of putting it to the US is pretty minimal." GoAuto understands that GM is looking closely at a rear-drive Holden replacing the Pontiac Grand Prix.

Mr Mooney reckons the SS V, which boasts a Mexican-sourced 270kW 6.0-litre V8, could be the ideal US export car.

GM boss Rick Wagoner hails VE
"THIS is probably the biggest event ever for the Holden brand.

"The launch of the all-new VE Commodore is at a critical point for Holden, and an important car for General Motors, not only in Australia but in different markets around the world.

"We all know that Denny and his team have been counting down the days to this launch, because these cars are so important to us for many reasons.

13 center imageLeft: Pontiac GTO.

"Commodore has been Australia's best selling car for 10 years. It has been the primary reason behind GM-Holden's tremendous contribution to the corporation in recent years.

"We also know that the large car market in Australia is slow, because everyone is waiting for this car to hit the road and bring buyers back to the fold.

"GM Holden has built up a tremendous expertise over several decades in making great rear-wheel drive cars we're fortunate to have such a great resource in the GM family. A resource we have enjoyed for 75 years now. Holden designers and engineers have access to the world's best thinking and ideas when putting these cars together.

"They also made significant contribution to the C100 program - Captiva.

"You'll learn how much safer the new cars are, how much new technology they bring and how enjoyable they are in terms of ride, handling, road manoeuvres and driver feedback.

"And as for looks... everyone who has seen VE and WM have been floored by their modern and dynamic proportions.

"All around the world, GM is intensely focused on bringing vehicles to market that are world class, the kind customers just have to have.

"It's a key part of our plans for North America and it certainly rings true in Australia as well.

"There are actually a lot of similarities between the two markets - we face nearly the same pressures.

"Like Holden, GM is faced with the stark reality that decades of industry leadership doesn't give us any breaks in the market today.

"The fact remains, and the US is bearing this out right now, that superior products lead the market.

"We've made tremendous progress with our North American turnaround, especially in terms of strengthening our cost competitiveness, revamping our sales and marketing strategies, and most of all launching great new cars and trucks.

"We all know that no automotive turnaround has ever been sustained without great new products. And that's going to be the heart of ours too.

"GM aims to win in every class in which it competes everywhere around the world.

"It's worth noting the GM-Holden is helping us with this in a number of ways.

"It's been more than two years since I was in Australia opening the new global V6 engine plant in Port Melbourne. Those engines are now being shipped to customers all around the world.

"More recently we commissioned GM-Holden to lead our rear-wheel drive vehicle development on a global basis, as part of our newly revamped global product development organisation.

"Last year we agreed to have the GM-Holden design operation significantly upgraded to become our third largest design centre in the world.

"And we approved major investments in the Adelaide operations, to strengthen our future there.

"All this says the same thing about Holden. It's doing world class work and there's going to be more of it. Of course you'll have to take my word for it, until you drive the cars.

"We know people around the world are watching and waiting to see how good this car is. People know that the VE Commodore is a sign of things to come for GM's rear-wheel drive cars, not just in Australia but wherever we sell them around the world.

"From where I stand here in Detroit everyone at GM knows that VE is one of the most significant cars in Holden's history.

"It gives the Holden dealer networks a fantastic opportunity to help Holden take back market leadership in Australia and it's the culmination of almost a decade of solid work by the entire GM-Holden team.

"We know the team has done it right with the new Commodore."

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