NEWLY appointed boss of General Motors Global Design, Australian Mike Simcoe, has vowed to support a push for affordable V8-powered rear-drive performance for Holden after the locally built Commodore expires at the end of 2017.
Simcoe is too political and smart to name names, but GM is clearly considering a right-hand-drive conversion of the Chevrolet Camaro, either later this decade at mid-life facelift time or when the all-new seventh generation arrives next decade.
Simcoe confirmed executives from both Holden and regional overseer GM International have approached him for lobbying help on the subject when he gets to the halls of power in Detroit.
Simcoe’s influence will be massive, dealing on a frequent basis with top GM management including CEO Mary Barra, president Dan Ammann and product chief Mark Reuss (a former Holden chairman).
“If you’re asking about a rear-wheel-drive performance V8 ... I understand the things this market needs so I will certainly help wherever I can,” Simcoe told Wheels. “Some people at Holden have already asked the question.”
However, Simcoe’s proviso is that the business case for RHD must stack up. “I recognise the need for a niche product that creates performance aspiration or aspiration for the brand itself and I will help make that happen. But I won’t do it in an irrational way. I was intensely loyal and passionate about Holden, but I was always rational and I will remain that.”
Holden and GM have been gazumped by Ford’s decision to build the latest Mustang in right-hand drive. The Camaro rival has been a major hit in Australia, with more than 6000 orders now confirmed and the waiting list stretching well into 2017.
Attention is now clearly being paid to the Mustang’s success outside its traditional markets. At last month’s New York motor show, Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser told Australian media that, while GM was aware of the Mustang’s success, no decision has been made about RHD.
As the father of the modern Monaro and VE Commodore, Mike Simcoe’s rise to the head of GM Global Design has been punctuated with stunning, emotive vehicles.