GM Australia: Supercars is “core pillar” to brand’s future

Chevrolet may not sell the Camaro in Australia but the Supercars program will be key to General Motors plans down under. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

General Motors Australia will use its new Chevrolet Racing Supercars program to help boost its Specialty Vehicles operation as it seeks to reinvent itself post-Holden.

GM Australia is the umbrella brand that covers GMSV, AC Delco servicing, Holden Certified Service and the recently-launched Holden Heritage. Chevrolet Racing was recently launched at the Repco Bathurst 1000, with the unveiling of the Gen3 Camaro, effectively replacing Holden Motorsport.

As previously reported on Speedcafe, GM has no plans to sell the Camaro locally with GMSV focused instead on the Corvette and Silverado models so the introduction of the Camaro has been designed to promote the Chevrolet brand.

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Speaking to Torquecafe, Marc Ebolo, managing director of General Motors Australia and New Zealand, expanded on that, saying it will allow the company to promote its variety of business interests locally. The Triple Eight Race Engineering entries already carry both GMSV and AC Delco branding and Ebolo said GM will be heavily involved in Supercars in 2022 and beyond to help sell more Corvettes and Silverados.

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Both models were on prominent display at Bathurst as GMSV seeks to tap into the passionate motorsport fan base.

“We’ve got a lot of plans,” Ebolo said. “We had a lot of plans this year that COVID has hurt. We’ve got a lot of plans going forward. I can honestly tell you we see motorsport as such an important pillar of our business and such an important vehicle to drive passion for all of our brands.”

The decision to race the Camaro at a time when Supercars is pushing the ‘road relevancy’ message for Gen3 has raised some criticism, but Ebolo said it was vital for GM to be involved in Supercars racing as it tries to transition from Holden to GMSV and its Chevrolet products.

“I think it’s important that we’ve got alignment with the US, they’ve just launched their Camaro in NASCAR,” he said. “We start to see this alignment between our brands and our markets. As a motorsport entry, a focused motorsport entry, we believe the look, the feel, the passion of this car is going to generate unbelievable excitement for all of our brands.”

He added: “It’s very important, we know just how powerful motorsport is in terms of passion and the support that it has for all of our business units. We believe it is an absolute core pillar of our business going forward.”

However, the future of the Camaro as a road car remains uncertain with GM headquarters in Detroit non-committal on plans beyond the current model. There have been reports it could be dropped as early as 2023 but more likely by the 2025 model year.

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Despite this, GM Australia’s GMSV’s marketing manager of aftersales, Chris Payne, doesn’t have any problems racing the likely-short-lived model.

“None whatsoever,” Payne said. “We’ll deal with the future and what comes but for now we’ll look to Supercars in 2023.”

It’s unclear what, if any, Chevrolet model could replace the Camaro in Supercars should it be discontinued in 2025. Chevrolet is reportedly set to drop its Impala sedan and focus on SUVs and utes in the future.

Given the continuation of the Holden Commodore ZB past its demise, the most likely scenario is teams running the Camaro from 2023 will get up to five seasons of use before the need to replace them, taking the sport through to 2028.

In the meantime, GMSV is planning to launch the Corvette Z06 in 2022, while sales of the Silverado 1500 and 2500 Heavy-Duty remain steady.

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