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Holden Announces Next Stage Of $1 Billion Export Drive

8 September, 1999

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Left-hand-drive Statesman/Caprice models set for volume sales in the Middle East

This month, General Motors dealers in the Middle East are taking delivery of the first shipments of Australian-built long-wheelbase Holdens. The left-hand-drive (LHD) versions of Holden's latest Statesman/Caprice models will be marketed throughout the region under the GM Chevrolet Caprice nameplate. Holden expects these larger luxury cars to attract even more buyers than the Chevrolet Lumina-badged VT Commodore, which is already the Middle East's top-selling GM model.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors Corporation, Mr Jack Smith, visiting Australia en route to the APEC summit in New Zealand, said the initiative highlights Holden's continuing drive to return to high volume exports by successfully integrating its activities into the Corporation's global strategies.

"Export programs such as this play a vital role in supplementing the GM product portfolio around the world. Holden-manufactured cars are selling in increasing numbers and under a growing variety of brand names in world markets that spread from South America to the Middle East and Japan," he said. "Holden is already a key export player through its high volume engine exports to world markets, including some strategic partners to GM. General Motors' drive into Asia Pacific markets and its commitment to taking advantage of regional resources will provide further opportunities for Holden to leverage its considerable design, engineering and manufacturing capability," Mr Smith concluded.

The Chevrolet Caprice will become the first locally produced Holden to sell in larger volume overseas than it does in Australia. By the end of 1999, Holden will have shipped a total of 7,500 left-hand-drive Chevrolet Caprices to the Middle East. The volume will grow to 10,000 units in 2000, almost doubling forecast domestic sales of Statesman/Caprice models.

Holden's Chevrolet Caprice export program to the Middle East, combined with Chevrolet Lumina sales, will earn millions of dollars in export revenue. The Holden Commodore is also exported to Latin America, Brunei, Fiji and New Zealand - and the locally produced Holden Vectra is shipped to Japan. Within a few years, Holden plans to build its total export business to the point where it accounts for one third of total vehicle production and earns approximately $1 billion in annual export revenue.

The V8-powered Chevrolet Caprice is available in two model specifications - LS and LTZ - and will be marketed by GM dealers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. A third, sports-orientated model is to be launched at the beginning of next year.

Holden Chairman and Managing Director Peter Hanenberger says Holden is confident that its long-wheelbase flagships (which replace a US-sourced model) will find ready acceptance in the Middle East and will compete successfully against a wide range of luxury imports.

"These cars are more than capable of taking on the best the world has to offer," he said. "This particular export program has been several years in the planning, and in that time we've gained a very clear understanding of Middle Eastern market requirements. Our research - and the high level of acceptance for our VT Commodore/Chevrolet Lumina - clearly indicates a market preference for big, powerful rear-wheel-drive vehicles. They also expect a high degree of reliability and the latest in safety technology - both of which are Holden specialties," Mr Hanenberger said.

The all-new Holden WH Statesman/Caprice on which the Chevrolet Caprice export models are based was introduced in June and now occupies number one position in the locally produced luxury vehicle market segment. Shared features include spacious, luxuriously appointed interiors and a range of significant engineering enhancements - including an advanced Generation III (GEN III) 5.7 litre alloy V8 engine - that deliver new dimensions in driving refinement.

Holden has engineered the left-hand-drive Chevrolet Caprice LS and LTZ models specifically to suit Middle Eastern requirements. The powerful GEN III alloy V8 is calibrated to run on leaded fuel and air conditioning systems are adjusted to cope with extremely high temperatures and humidity. For the same reason, batteries and alternators have been upgraded to provide for extended idle periods. High-speed driving habits are reflected by the fact that the overspeed warning chime alert is set at a regulatory 120 km/h, and windscreen wipers have been upgraded to provide for a minimum 200 km/h lift-off speed.

The combined population of the Middle Eastern countries in which the Chevrolet Caprice is being sold is approximately 20 million, and the annual passenger vehicle market totals some 150,000 units.

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