Tony O'Kane | Apr 1, 2009

We knew times were tough, but this takes the cake.

In a joint statement released late yesterday, Holden and Toyota announced that each will 'gift' their volume-selling models to the other in an arrangement that's peculiarly reminiscent of the Holden Apollo/Toyota Lexcen debacle of the 1990s.

Holden will be sending its Commodore Toyota's way, who will sell it in a similar spec level to the current VE Omega.

To allow for sufficient separation between Toyota's version (which - incredibly - will wear the Lexcen nameplate) and that currently sold by Holden, the 2010 Lexcen will receive a number of changes.

The Commodore's 3.6 litre Alloytec engine will be detuned from 175kW and 318Nm to 143kW and 278Nm, a move undertaken not only to save fuel, but to avoid overpowering the low-resistance 195mm-wide tyres.

Air conditioning will be a cost option, as will power windows. An AM/FM radio is standard, however Toyota made no mention of a CD player.

Three colours will be available upon the Lexcen's launch: white, burgundy and moss green. Interior trim can be optioned in either black or grey.

2010 Holden Gemini

In exchange for the Commodore, Holden will receive Toyota's Camry. Unlike the Lexcen a name has yet to be decided for the Holden-badged Toyota, but early indications are that GMH don't want to associate their vehicle with the poorly-recieved Apollo of yesteryear.

"Gemini," however, is at the top of Holden's shortlist of names for the not-so-new car.

Detailed technical specs for Holden's Camry clone have yet to be released, but company insiders tell us it will be virtually identical - both mechanically and cosmetically - to its Toyota-branded counterpart.

Anybody else getting a feeling of deja vu in here?

The last time Toyota and Holden flirted with badge-engineering each other's cars, it resulted in lacklustre sales figures for both vehicles - so why revisit it?

Toyota Australia senior divisional manager, sales and marketing, Matthew Callachor said the joint venture had a lot to do with protecting the local carmaking industry.

"Holden's Camry will still be built by Toyota Australia and the Lexcen will still be built by Holden," he said.

"The key advantage is that both Toyota and Holden will benefit from an additional model line at virtually nil cost, which should make our brands more enticing to Australian new-car buyers.

"The global economic climate is extremely unfavourable for carmakers at the moment, and we need to protect our local industry. What better way to do so than by expanding production of two of Australia's most popular domestically-built models?"

The last time Australian automakers tried such a gig, it was under the Button car plan: the very same plan that spawned the original Apollo and Lexcen. Go figure.

UPDATE: Deal's Off, Suckas

Unless you live West of Los Angeles odds are it's no longer April 1 anymore, in which case we can now inform you that yes, this is all a big April Fools gag.

Many apologies to Holden and Toyota for even suggesting they'd have the poor judgement to bring back the Lexcen and Apollo; and to Toyota's Matthew Callachor, we're terribly sorry for bringing you into this - we needed it to sound authentic!

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