General Motors Special Vehicles (GMSV) claims hot demand for the Chevrolet Corvette and Silverado suggests Australians haven’t fallen out of love with GM – post the demise of Holden.
GM’s new, more niche sales operation in Australia this week staged a media event promoting its V8 Silverado pickup, and Corvette halo coupe and convertible.
It was billed as the first time the GMSV division has been able to get its full portfolio in the one spot: comprising the C8 Corvette Coupe and Convertible; and Silverado LT Trail Boss, LTZ Premium, and Heavy Duty LTZ Premium.
Since launching mid-pandemic last November, the GMSV company says it has sold more than 2100 of its six-figure Silverados in Australia and New Zealand, each converted to right-hand drive by Walkinshaw in Melbourne’s south-east.
It has also completely sold out of its first allocation of Corvettes, with four cars being sent to each of its 64 dealerships in the first tranche. The mid-engined V8 muscle car range kicked off at $144,990 before on-roads yet are all spoken for before hitting dealers from mid-January.
Unlike the Silverado, the ‘Vette is actually made at the Chevrolet plant in the US with right-hand drive already, for markets like Australia/New Zealand, plus the UK and Japan.
“We’ve introduced GMSV to thousands of people and have had an unbelievable reaction when we’ve been able to showcase models from the line-up,” said GMSV Australia and NZ director Joanne Stogiannis.
“The reception to the C8 Stingray at Talem Bend earlier this year was phenomenal, as was the pure pulling-power of the Chevrolet Silverados at Bathurst last weekend.”
Early demand and tyre-kicking notwithstanding, we felt compelled to ask GM managers present whether ongoing negative coverage for the defunct Holden brand was impacting the GMSV rollout, and whether the company took GM’s past into account when rolling out its new brand.
Negative coverage includes the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) slamming GM just last month for its treatment of local Holden dealers, despite wrapping up an investigation into its conduct around dealers.
Chairman Rod Sims said it “had done much to damage the General Motors brand in Australia, and perhaps beyond”.
The ACCC says it is also assessing GM’s decision to quietly drop its supposed “lifetime” capped price servicing program.
Moreover, a bipartisan Senate Inquiry censured General Motors for its treatment of Holden dealers, and court cases between GM and ex-Holden sales operations are ongoing.
With this as context, we wanted to know from GM’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand Marc Ebolo whether the General had in fact lost a chunk of enthusiasts – who would’ve otherwise been inclined to want a Chevy V8.
“The demand for these vehicles has blown us away, Silverado and Corvette. Absolutely blown us away,” Mr Ebolo answered.
“In terms of what we’re doing as a business structure, Holden is a very important part to us and will always be an important part to us,” he replied.
“… One thing we will be talking more about going into the new year is the Holden heritage, as we continue all these activities to preserve the collection.”
GM’s local business units now comprise GM Trade Parts, Holden Certified Service, AC Delco, and Chevrolet Racing, alongside the GMSV consumer-facing sales division. It has retiree groups in South Australia and Victoria, and a goldmine of historical documents to sift through.
“Do we want our legions of passionate Holden fans, customers, employees, to come on the journey with us? Of course we do, that’s our dream,” Mr Ebolo said, when we suggested some V8 Holden fans must surely have fallen well out of love with GM.
What do you think? Would you be happy to buy a General Motors product under Chevrolet/GMSV branding, or did the Holden demise leave a bad taste? Tell us below.