August 17, 2013

Horse 1531 - 2016 Chevrolet Impala... To Sell in Australia?

Two years ago (Horse 1217) I predicted that Holden would replace the Commodore with the Malibu. The reasoning I thought, would be that at the end of the model cycle in 2014-15, the Commodore would be replaced by a smaller car. You can all laugh and make fun of me now, I got that wrong.
Two years on and the Malibu (I guessed the bit about it being sold here though) has been slotted in below the Commodore as a direct replacement for the Epica which made as many ripples as throwing a pea into Lake Burley Griffin. I suspect though that the Malibu might do better than the Epica because of a slightly more aggressive set of styling cues and marketing campaign.

In the meantime, in their adverts for the Commodore, Holden is crowing loudly about the fact that it is sold in the United States under the nameplate of the "SS". With that last piece of the corporate puzzle falling into place, it inadvertently reveals something else: every Holden is marketed elsewhere in the world as a Chevrolet.
There is a Chevrolet Spark, Cruze, Captiva, Colorado, Malibu and whilst there isn't a Barina, that same car wears the nameplate "Aveo" in the rest of the world.

It's got me thinking. If Holden for some reason were to lose their export market for the Commodore in the same way that they did when they killed Pontiac and with it their GTO and Monaro, then Holden in Australia would be left with a similar production question that Ford faced with the Falcon. I think that its entirely possible that the next Zeta platform car might not even made in Australia at all; if that's true, then what replaces the Commodore.

Just like the Spark, Aveo, Cruze and Malibu, Chevrolet (and by inference Daewoo who mostly build them for Australia), there actually is an existing Chevrolet equivalent and it is that car which could very easily serve as the Commodore replacement.
Enter the Impala*.

The Impala is 147mm longer and 44mm narrower. It comes with the same 2.4L inline-4 which is found in the Malibu and the same 3.6L V6 which is found in the Commodore but mounted E-W and driving the front wheels as opposed to the N-S rear wheel drive arrangement of the Commodore. As a replacement for the Commodore it would logically be a direct fit.
Come 2016 when the architecture of the Commdore would be ten years old, the market might have even shrunk around the Commodore, the way it did for the Ford Falcon and it might be just as easy to just not bother to replace it. That then leaves the question of what to do about the Ute but seeing as Ford have already decided that that question is not worth bothering about, the answer for Holden is probably likewise.

Holden would then probably need some sort of 'halo' car to replace the V8 Commodore or give HSV something to play with. They could just as easily re-engineer the Impala to take the LS3 6.3L V8, or ditch the idea of the big V8 sedan altogether and play the Camaro against Ford's Mustang.
It's worth noting that the Commodore does sell in America under the nameplate of SS and the last car to wear that, was a derivative of an Impala.

There is the rather unlikely prospect that the American Impala might be replaced with the Australian Commodore and although that would give Chevrolet cause to resurrect the El Camino plate in America, they're more likely to slay the lion entirely and give Australia gold bow ties.
Unfortunately, unlike the suggestion which the Doctor makes, in this case bow ties are not cool.

*the autocorrect feature on my phone doesn't recognise the word Impala - its suggestion is the word Unpalatable, which I don't know if it's apt or not.

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