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Just some info I ran across.

Cliffnotes - The next generation Holden Commodore will be the basis of an entirely new generation of powerful GM RWD cars in the US. Buick - Roadmaster and Velite. Chevrolet - Camaro, Caprice, El Camino, Impala, and Monte Carlo. Pontiac - Grand Prix (G8) and GTO. Saab - 9-5. The man who styled the Monaro and last generation of Holdens will be overseeing the design of these new cars.

The Pontiac Solstice will also be the basis for new compact GM RWD cars. Chevrolet - Nomad. Holden - Torana. Saturn - Evoke and Sky.

The Corvette will continue to be the basis of the Cadillac XLR. The Sigma will continue to be exclusive to Cadillac.

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Sydney Morning Herald

Holden's design studio working on the Monaro

The last time Bob Lutz visited Holden with senior executives from General Motors, he set the wheels in motion to export the Monaro to America. On this week's flying visit, General Motors' flamboyant product chief and his peers had a sneak preview of the all-new 2006 Commodore range, most of which is likely to be sold and assembled overseas.

Reports in overseas motoring media claim that General Motors is close to announcing the Commodore's global plans. But at a media briefing on Tuesday at Holden's proving ground on the outskirts of Melbourne, Lutz said a date was yet to be finalised.

Everybody is hard at work and the assumption is it will all be approved, but [the corporation] likes to time these [announcements] for maximum effect, said Lutz. Our friends in the communications department are trying to keep a lid on it for the time being.

Part of the reason for the delay in the announcement is that it affects many parties. The skeleton of the next Commodore is likely to be used in vehicles GM sells in the USA, Europe, Korea, China and the Middle East.

The 2006 Commodore will be the first vehicle to use the all-new structure. But, thanks to computer and satellite technology, Holden designers could style Commodore-based variants for other GM divisions - namely Saab, Cadillac, Buick and Pontiac - from their studios in Port Melbourne. Technology allows the three-dimensional designs and other vital statistics to be transmitted electronically to GM's design centres in the US and Europe.

Once [the 2006 Commodore] is over we're going to have some spare engineering capacity, said Lutz. With the technology you can have Holden chief designer Mike Simcoe design a Cadillac, transfer the data to Detroit, and then have designers in America mill the clay model there, polish it up and critique it. Nowadays it almost doesn't matter where the physical clay [model] is.

Saab's advanced design studio, he said, is currently working on a Cadillac project. So, I think very definitely that Holden will be more involved in future global design. Lutz also stressed that Australian designers - not Americans - would design the next generation Pontiac GTO.

Meanwhile, the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the US would not automatically lead to an export order for Holden Utes, Lutz said, because Holden's factory in Adelaide is running at maximum capacity and negotiations with America's powerful United Auto Workers (UAW) union are yet to take place.

We have a highly co-operative relationship with the UAW, Lutz said. You don't want to disrupt it. It's like if I want to buy another airplane. I can absolutely do it and confront my wife and say it was my money, I decided I needed another airplane and she would say, 'Yes, dear', but there would be a disturbed relationship for a considerable period of time.

When asked if the UAW would accept more imported vehicles if the trade agreement with Australia was ratified, Lutz said: Intellectually, it's understood. On an emotional level, it's hard to digest at a time when we don't have all our [factories] running at full capacity and we're still talking about having excess capacity in the US.

Don't forget that, for Americans, the concept of the country existing in a global economy is much harder to accept than it is for Europeans and other people because we were like a world unto our own for so many decades.

Lutz said the UAW might be less opposed to imports once Cadillacs, Corvettes, Hummers and other vehicles were exported overseas: It's a two-way street.

Lutz, 72, who has worked for BMW, Ford and Chrysler during his illustrious career and who flies a military fighter plane in his spare time, said he has no plans to retire. I don't think about it, he said. As far as I'm concerned, I serve at the pleasure of [General Motors CEO] Rick Wagoner and the board of directors, and I'm willing to do it as long as they'll have me.

I'm having the time of my life, he said as he sampled the Monaro-based Pontiac GTO at 200kmh on Holden's high-speed test track. This job beats retirement any day. Tell me where in retirement you can do this.

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GM Shuns All-Out Retro for the Next GTO

Optional hood scoops give the 2005 Pontiac GTO a retro touch.

JASON STEIN | Automotive News
Posted Date: 11/22/04

PHOENIX -- After a year of disappointing sales, Pontiac is scaling back production of the 2005 Pontiac GTO, which was touted as a halo car for the brand. Pontiac will cut 2005 GTO production by about 30 percent next year, from its 2004 target of 1,300 to 1,500 units a month to 1,000 a month in 2005.

Larry Pryg, marketing manager for Pontiac's premium mid-sized cars, admitted Pontiac did not conduct enough initial market research on the GTO, misallocated inventory and missed its initial estimate. "We will adjust production levels, and 12,000 units a year seems right for this vehicle," Pryg said at a press event here.

Through October, Pontiac sold 9,487 GTOs in the United States. Pontiac is offering a $3,500 national cash rebate on 2004 models. Earlier, dealers had complained that the GTO suffered from bland styling and a high sticker price, and lacked incentives.

Adjusting allocation

Pontiac said imprudent allocation to dealerships was a bigger factor in the slow start. Pontiac overloaded its inventory in the U.S. north-central region, allocating 40 percent of the rear-wheel-drive GTO's initial production to those states in the middle of winter, when the handling problems of rear-drive vehicles in snow are most apparent.

"We wanted to reward those dealers," Pryg said, "but we couldn't neglect the other parts of the country, such as the West Coast, where we didn't have enough in our 30-day supply."

Pryg said 30 percent of 2005 GTO inventory will be allocated to the north-central region. The rest will be dispersed across the country. This month some dealers still were receiving 2004 GTOs. GM has promised its dealers that production on the 2005 GTO would finish three months earlier than last year.

As for issues of styling and price, Pontiac hopes a stable price and a larger engine will attract more buyers. The 2005 GTO gets a new engine, the LS2 6.0-liter V-8 with 400 hp. The previous engine pumped out 350 hp. To the relief of traditionalists, an optional hood scoop has been added, along with dual exhaust.

Duane Earl, sales manager at Sawyers Pontiac in East Lansing, Mich., says early criticisms of the GTOs were unfounded. "There was a lot of bad press about it not looking like the old GTOs of the 1960s and '70s, but that's not what it was supposed to be about," says Earl, who sold 22 GTOs last year and has one order for the new model. "I think now that it is out there and people know what it's about, it will be welcomed."

Next-generation GTO

GM has hinted that the next-generation GTO, scheduled to appear on the Australian engineered Zeta rear-drive architecture for the 2007 or 2008 model year, will be a large departure from the current model.

Pontiac hopes to position the GTO as its version of the Chevrolet Corvette - an aspirational vehicle that is the "soul of the brand," says Pontiac spokesman Jim Hopson.

Pryg said: "There is a real desire to make it striking. "We will start from scratch with something for U.S. tastes. We are going to stretch, but there will only be a few retro cues." Pryg said that there may be an opportunity for more volume in the next model, "but that's not the first word out of our mouths right now."

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DETROIT -- Holden Ltd., the force behind the reintroduction of the Pontiac GTO, will play a large role in General Motors' future product plans.

GM has assigned its Australian subsidiary the design and engineering for a new generation of rear-wheel-drive cars on the Zeta architecture. Some, including a Buick sedan and the redesigned GTO, will be assembled in the United States. The Buick will be first in 2006.

"Holden will take the lead for a lot of work, including most of the core engineering work," says Marty Hogan, program engineering manager for the current GTO. "The U.S. will still be responsible for regional needs and for meeting U.S. requirements, but Holden is serving a large need. "Because Holden has worked on the architecture before Zeta," Hogan says, it "will continue to integrate it."

Holden's lean, profitable operation has become a role model for GM's global engineering, computer and design network.

In America, Holden helped rework the right-hand-drive Monaro into the 2004 GTO. Hogan says 35 Holden engineers worked on the GTO, including 15 who oversaw the program from the GM Technical Center in Warren, Mich.

But "ultimately, it's Holden's own architecture," Hogan says. "We're picking up work they've done and trying to apply their applications to the core engineering."

This year, GM CEO Rick Wagoner reaffirmed Holden's importance.

"Holden continues to play a critical role, both as a key local player and as a source of engineering and design expertise, with special focus on its large, rear-drive car capabilities," Wagoner told journalists in September at GM's global seminar in France.

Holden's expertise is crucial to American development.

Says Hogan: "There are not too many questions asked on this side that they don't have an answer for over there."
 
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