Holden announced at today’s unveiling of the VE Series II range to Australian media that it will soon commence exports of its home-grown large car to the Brazilian market.
Badged as a Chevrolet Omega, the LHD Commodores will be sold as a large luxury car in Brazil. The first shipment of 600 will set sail in late October, and will go on sale in December as the Omega Fittipaldi Edition, a nod to Brazilian motorsports legend and Chevrolet ambassador Emerson Fittipaldi (above, on right).
Sharing much of its specification with the Holden Calais, the Chevrolet Omega also gets a unique suspension tune to help it deal with Brazil’s poor quality roads. Power is supplied by an E25-capable 3.6 litre V6, however a business case has yet to be made for the thirstier (yet E85-compatible) 6.0 V8 and 3.0 V6.
Compatibility with ethanol-blend fuels is essential for cars destined for the Brazilian market, with around 90 percent of all cars sold there capable of running on 100 percent ethanol. This is a significant number in a very large market; in excess of nine million flex-fuel cars are sold in Brazil each year.
Although the 3.6 litre V6 of the Chevrolet Omega can only handle a 25 percent ethanol blend for now, an E85-compatible version is expected to arrive closer to 2012 (when it will also be fitted to the Holden VE II range).
This isn’t the first time Commodores have been sent to Brazil badged as Chevys. All models from VT to VE were sold in Brazil as Chevrolet Omegas, however the impact of the Global Financial Crisis crimped demand for large cars in South America and saw exports halt.
Now, with the Brazilian economy in recovery and demand for new cars rising, GM’s Brazilian arm expects sales of the Omega to be consistent. The first shipment of 600 cars is predicted to be completely sold by February, after which the Omega will continue to sell, albeit without the Fittipaldi Edition branding.
Chevrolet Brazil’s sales director Gustavo Colossi expects to shift around 150 Omegas per month thereafter, providing a small – but consistent – export market for Holden.
With Brazil forecast to have the third-largest new car market in the world in the near future (it’s currently in fourth place), future demand for the Australian-built Chevrolet Omega could rise significantly.
Other export potential may come from the US, where the WM-based Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle is expected to generate significant demand from law enforcement agencies.
While Holden’s Managing Director and Chairman Mike Deveraux says Holden won’t be relying on exports to make it – and keep it – profitable, he was bullish about potential exports of the Caprice PPV.
A handful of PPV prototypes have been touring North America to drum up interest in the long-wheelbase police car, and Mr Deveraux says a Caprice export program is “imminent”.
Various US state and Federal departments are expected to place orders for the Caprice PPV – which would be built in Australia – in October, and it’s anticipated that police fleets will adopt them by the thousands.
With rear-wheel drive, the option of a powerful V8 engine and a very roomy rear cabin, the Caprice PPV has a definite edge over the competition, which is primarily made up of the outdated Dodge Charger, the front-wheel drive Chevrolet Impala and Ford’s replacement for its recently-retired Crown Victoria, the Taurus.
The law enforcement market in North America is estimated to purchase around 70,000 new vehicles each year, meaning any exports of the Caprice PPV could be especially lucrative for Holden.