HSV set to convert Chevrolets for RHD
HSV and Holden have entered into a new agreement that will see the Chevrolet Silverado and Camaro re-engineered to right hand drive for sale in Australia and NZ.
Holden says it has been talking about bringing customers the best vehicles from around the GM world, and this is the next step in that strategy, partnering with HSV to reintroduce the Chevrolet brand into Australasia by converting the models to right hand drive. The renewed partnership will see a broader range of products offered from the GM stable using HSV’s design, engineering and manufacturing expertise on such projects.
Holden’s head of marketing Mark Harland was present at the announcement as a show of solidarity between the two firms which have had a slightly tense relationship in past years over hot Commodores. Harland said these Chev vehicles won’t be wearing a Holden badge ‘as people just wouldn’t believe it’ as these are what he calls ‘iconic Chevrolet products’. These vehicles will be sold via the HSV dealer network, with these dealerships to carry Chevrolet ‘bow tie’ branding.
So is this then the beginning of the end for the Holden brand? Harland says no. “Holden is here to stay. Chevrolet plays a roll for the rear drive enthusiast and brings heavy duty pick-up capabilities but Holden still has a place [in the market] and there are no plans to change that. Going through the factory closure, there has been a surprising amount of positive sentiment going through that, so there are no plans to change course with Holden, we are here to stay.”
HSV boss, Tim Jackson, says his company’s role starts and stops with the conversion of the two Chevrolet products. “This isn’t about enhancing them, its about getting the steering wheel on the right side without you noticing the change, that’s the job and the challenge.”
HSV will convert the Silverado 2500HD to offer a full size truck for those with big towing or payload requirements. The five-model line up, all Crew Cabs with 4x4 will include a 2500HD WT (for Work Truck) aimed at the likes of mining and forestry industries while the 2500HD LTZ, LTZ Midnight Edition and LTZ Custom Sport are highend trucks for the rich cowboy set. A 3500HD LTZ will also be offered, which favours payload over towing capacity. All will be powered by the Duramax 6.6 V8 diesel outputting 332kW and 1234Nm of torque. The 2500HD can tow up to 6.1 tonnes, while the 3500HD has a payload of up to 1848kg, though all these figures are yet to be verified by HSV. The conversion process will begin in April next year, and the 3500 will become available in the second quarter with pricing still to be finalised.
The other Chevrolet to be offered is the Camaro in what’s known as 2SS trim, a high specification, V8-powered coupe. It features the LT1 6.2 V8 with 340kW and 615Nm of torque thanks to direct injection and vvt. HSV says it will be offered in both manual and auto variants, and they may consider a convertible at some point if the numbers stack up. As to pricing, that’s yet to be revealed too but Jackson says it will carry a premium compared to the Mustang.
With the ramp up in production, HSV is moving into a new purpose built, 28,000 square metre facility with four production lines. As Holden closes its plant, the Walkinshaw Group, owners of HSV, has added 20 engineers in the last 18 months and once up to full production will employ 160 people. HSV intend to roll out around 2500-3000 units in the next 18 months. Although not revealing all the details, Jackson said HSV’s future is mapped out to 2021 with opportunities to pursue five main platforms. So there’s more to come yet.