Australian Holdens to Return to U.S. Streets, Racetracks

Racing version will compete in next year's NASCAR series.

Automaker GM Holden Friday announced the Australian built and designed Commodore will be sold in United States as the Chevrolet SS, with a racing version competing in the NASCAR series.

Holden, an Australian subsidiary of General Motors, said a limited production version of the top-of-the-range car will be built at its South Australian plant, with exports starting next year.

It will be the first time in 17 years an Australian-made Holden rear-wheel drive sedan will be exported to the United States.

"Holden has a great track record of producing performance cars for GM and the world," executive director of engineering Greg Tyus said. "We were responsible for the design and engineering of the Chevrolet Camaro, (the) VE Commodore was sold as the Pontiac G8 and we are currently exporting the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle.

"So we understand the needs of the North American market."

A racing version will compete in next year's NASCAR series, the most popular form of U.S. auto racing, making its debut at the world-renowned Daytona 500.

The company said the vehicle will benefit from significant technology advances including innovations in weight and fuel efficiency.

"I am delighted to say that Chevrolet will deliver a true rear-wheel-drive NASCAR racecar in the SS (model) that very closely links the performance sedan that will be available for sale," said GM North American president Mark Reuss.

"The Chevrolet SS is a great example of how GM is able to leverage its global product portfolio to deliver a unique performance experience that extends well beyond the track and I am personally looking forward to driving it."

The export announcement is welcome news for Holden, which has been suffering the effects of a high Australian dollar, rising production costs and faltering domestic sales.

In March, the government handed it a Aus$275 million (US$270 million) subsidy to keep its Australian plants open, avoiding a "knock-out blow" to the country's struggling auto manufacturing industry.

Copyright 2012 Agence France-Presse

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