The all-American Chevrolet badge is almost certain to officially return to New Zealand after an absence of 50 years, this time on the go-fast 2020 Camaro sports car.
Chevrolet parent General Motors is going global with the next two-door Camaro, just as rival Ford has done with Mustang. The seventh-generation Camaro will be available from the factory in North America in both left- and right-hand drive, although GM has yet to officially confirm it.
But it won’t be rebadged Holden for the Downunder market, unlike other vehicles imported for New Zealand and Australia from GM’s global portfolio.
The current sixth-generation model is pictured here, available in the US with the choice of three engines – a turbocharged four-cylinder, a V6, or a V8.
Market research groups are reportedly already gauging Downunder reaction to the Chevrolet brand. Earlier this year, Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser said his team was monitoring the sales success of the Ford Mustang in this part of the world. More than 11,500 Mustangs have been sold in New Zealand and Australia since 2015.
Holden closes its manufacturing plant in South Australia this month. Its communications chief Sean Poppitt told Australian reporters visiting GM’s headquarters in Detroit that Holden’s future line-up could expand beyond rebadged models from Chevrolet and Opel.
Poppitt talked of a “mysterious sports car” that would likely retain its Chevrolet badge. The mystery car is the next Camaro. There is already talk that Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) will convert left-hook Camaros until Holden can get right-hook models direct from the factory.
HSV spokesman Damon Paull told the Sydney Morning Herald: “I have read reports about the Camaro coming but we have no comment”.
Poppitt said the Camaro was “certainly a massively exciting product and we’d definitely love to see it on the roads. But I can’t talk about what or when that might be.
“I think there’s an opportunity with the mysterious sports car that we’ve talked about and some of our competitors have been able to move a bit more quickly in that space, but we’ve got some really good things coming that will really get people fired up.”
Asked if the Camaro should wear a Holden, HSV or Chevrolet badge, Poppitt said the car shouldn’t wear the iconic Lion badge: “I think it has to wear a Chevrolet badge, it absolutely does. It’s intrinsic to its DNA and to what it stood for, for decades in the US, and globally,” he said.
“So, should something like that come to pass, I think you’ve got an opportunity for GM to have a more portfolio strategy in Australia like they do in the US.”
Poppitt also suggested adding GM brands to Australia would be a positive strategic move and an exciting opportunity for Holden. “We’ve got the core business of cars, SUVs and trucks with Holden.
“If there were any other brands to come in then you will all of a sudden have a more strategic portfolio closer aligned to what might be in the US. It’s certainly exciting opportunities for us.”
• The last factory-badged Chevrolet to sell new in New Zealand was the Canadian-built Impala sedan, in 1968.