August 02, 2011

Horse 1217 - 2013 Chevrolet Malibu... Next Holden Commodore?

I think that you're probably looking either at the next model of the Holden Commodore, or else it's replacement. Wonder why? Well I think it's because of something to do with flagging sales and the initial development costs of the Commodore's replacement.

The following is a short sales review:

2002 - 88,478 - VY
2003 - 86,553 - VY
2004 - 79,170 - VY-VZ
2005 - 66,794 - VZ
2006 - 56,531 - VZ-VE
2007 - 57,307 - VE
2008 - 51,093 - VE
2009 - 44,387 - VE
2010 - 45,956 - VE-VEii

Sales for the Commodore peaked back in 2002 with the previous Third Generation model VY and they've been on the slide since then. The Commodore which has a derivative of GM's LY7 V6 engine seems to be a little too large in size for the market these days.

The Eighth Gen Malibu sits on the same platform as the Opel Insignia which won European Car Of The Year for 2009 and the ill-fated Holden Epica which is horribly unloved by the marketplace.
Currently the Epica gets a 2.5L in-line 6 which puts out a paltry 115kW. The thing is though, that we know that the platform can take a 2.8L Supercharged V6 like it does in the Insignia, or a 3.9L V6 as it does with the American Chevrolet Malibu. Holden if they're smart or indeed forced to would shut down their Australian manufacturing operations and simply purchase American spec-engines.

Since the Malibu/Epica is a slightly smaller car than the current model Commodore, it would make sense to use that as the next model. Holden has already lowered the engine capacity of the Commodore twice from 3.8L to 3.6L and then 3.0L which means to say that even they think that the car is too large.
The Commodore itself has grown twice since the nameplate was first used. From VB-VL (1978-1988) it grew to a bigger platform for VN-VZ (1988-2006) and again with VE in 2006. The current Malibu/Epica is actually a bigger car physically than the VB-VL Commodore and even the HQ-HJ-HX-HZ range of Kingswoods from 1971-1980.

On a slightly related topic, this is the reason I suspect why the V8 Supercars are travelling to Austin, Texas in 2013. Think about it, there is already talk about rebranding Holden's as Chevrolet's whilst over there; I wonder if it might not be permanent.
Holden already sell the Chevrolet Spark, the Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet Cruze and the Chevrolet Captiva under its label. Holden already is almost a Chevrolet shelf company and whence the Commodore comes to the end of its model cycle circa 2014-15, are they going to want to spend another $1bn in development like they did with VE?

Holden already appears to be something of a backwater with it's previous two attempts to sell into the US market being totally thwarted. The Monaro was sold as the Pontiac GTO before the whole line was pulled, and the Commodore was sold under the Pontiac G8 badge before the whole Pontiac badge was shut down admist the GFC.

If it comes down to a street fight between Detroit and Elizabeth, I think I know who'd win.

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