It’s a poorly kept secret that many Americans are quite fond of the Australian-made and Commodore-derived, Holden Ute, which we recently drove in Queensland. It’s big, brutish and comfortable with a bevy of engine and equipment options to suit virtually any budget or taste - so long as those tastes only extend to, “Big, brutish V6 or V8 engined utes”.
Before the Global Financial Crisis of 2009, the subsequent bankruptcy GM and the disillusion of the Pontiac brand, as many as half of the Holden Commodores built in Australia were destined for the U.S. and the world in the form of the Pontiac G8. A thinly disguised Holden Ute even made a showing at the 2008 New York Auto Show as the Pontiac G8 Sport Truck.
Since then – and after GM’s government sponsored recovery – rumors have been rife that the Holden Commodore and its ute bodied brethren could return to the United States badged as Chevrolets. With petrol prices on the rise once again and the predictable financial struggle some tradesmen have been experiencing, many are looking to downsize.
Ex-Holden boss and current GM President, North America, Mark Reuss explains:
“The bandwidth we have on pick-up trucks in the US is huge. When you look at fuel prices today, I think there's going to be a segmentation of that bandwidth. I've lived in Australia and I've seen where fuel prices are US$5 a gallon, and lots of tradesmen will use a ute with a tray on the back to do lots of different things, and they don't need the bandwidth of a big pick-up truck.”
So there’s certainly a market for the Holden Ute (or a Holden Ute-derived vehicle) in the U.S., though there probably won’t be an attempt at conquering the North American market until the VE Commodore’s successor lands Down Under in 2014. New emissions regulations set to be introduced stateside in 2016 are likely to make conditions all the riper for a lighter, sportier model to sit alongside Chevrolet and GMC’s more “heavy duty” models.
By Tristan Hankins
Via Drive , Live Pics Tristan Hankins/Carscoop