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Automotive Intelligence News

News of  January 11, 2000
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Holden Number One In 1999

The final year of the millennium will be recorded as one of Holden's most successful ever. While winning total market leadership was the crowning achievement, other major highlights included Commodore consolidating its position as Australia's best selling car for the fourth consecutive year and the decade overall, record production figures and an expanding export program.

With total sales of 155,307 in 1999, Holden finished 2,241 units ahead of Toyota. This excellent result (it is 18 years since Holden last claimed the market leadership title) was underpinned by continued strong demand for the best-selling VT Commodore range and substantial increases in four-cylinder and light commercial vehicle sales.

In a year that saw the Commodore nameplate celebrate its 21st anniversary, the VT Commodore outsold its major rival, the Falcon, on the way to becoming the biggest selling Commodore ever and Australia's top selling car for the fourth year in a row.

1999 is also a record-breaking year for Holden's vehicle manufacturing facility in Elizabeth, S.A., with a production tally of 128,202 vehicles, eclipsing the benchmark set last year of 120,327 cars.

The Series II VT Commodore, introduced in June, featured an all-new powerplant - the Generation III (GEN III) 5.7 litre alloy V8 - developed in the U.S. by General Motors Powertrain Group at a project cost of US$1 billion. The fuel efficient 220kW engine replaced Holden's venerable V8, the last of which came off the Fishermens Bend production line in June following 30 years of production. The popular 'bent eight' was available from when the HT Holden hit the streets in 1969.

Holden's all-new WH Statesman and Caprice long wheelbase luxury vehicles also made their debut in 1999. Introducing a totally new exterior design and benchmark interior luxury matched with significant safety and engineering advancements, they were developed to meet the demands and expectations of Australian and international buyers. Recently, the NRMA and RACV voted the Supercharged V6 Statesman the Best Luxury Car Under $56,000.

Other Holden models to gain industry recognition in 1999 included the VT Commodore, being voted Best Family Car, and the Holden Astra, Best Small Car, in the RACQ/Courier Mail QCAR and RACT Best Car awards.

Holden's $1 billion export program moved up a gear when General Motors dealers in the Middle East took delivery of the first shipments of left-hand-drive versions of the WH Statesman/Caprice models, which are sold there under the Chevrolet Caprice nameplate. These are expected to attract even more buyers than the Chevrolet Lumina-badged VT Commodore, which has already established itself as the Middle East's top-selling GM model.

In another export initiative, Holden reached a milestone in July when its three millionth export engine came off the production line and was packed for shipment to Germany. Tim Fischer, MP joined employees, suppliers and guests at Holden's Fishermens Bend (Vic.) engine manufacturing facility in a ceremony to mark the occasion. Highlighting its role as Team Millennium Olympic Partner for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Holden released four Olympic edition models in 1999. The well-specified variants included Commodore, Vectra, Astra and Barina models, all offering extra value features.

The Series II Holden Vectra, which featured a number of design, performance and suspension enhancements, was released in August. Enthusiasts Australia-wide applauded when Holden confirmed that its exciting Coupe design concept car would become a production reality, with an expected market release date of 2001.

Other notable highlights of 1999 included Mr Peter Hanenberger being named Holden's new Chairman and Managing Director in June - his predecessor, Jim Wiemels, taking up the position of GM Europe Vice President of Manufacturing. Amid a toughening automotive market environment, Holden announced a net income of $166.1 million for the year ended 31 December 1998 despite challenging economic conditions and a strongly competitive environment.

In motorsport, Holden continued to dominate, winning the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) and the prestigious Bathurst 1000 endurance title. Holden Racing Team's Craig Lowndes took the ATCC series title after a consistent year's racing. Fellow Commodore drivers, Greg Murphy and Steven Richards, won Bathurst ahead of Lowndes and Cameron McConville, with HRT team mates Mark Skaife and Paul Morris finishing third for a Holden 1-2-3 whitewash. (January 7, 2000)
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see also: Automotive Intelligence Special NAIAS 2000
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