It’s only just been revealed, but already Holden’s VE Commodore is embarking on a world tour. Bruce Newton, drive.com.au, 16/07/06 Holden has developed a secret plan to pitch the new VE Commodore SS to its parent General Motors as a Pontiac sports sedan model in the USA. The future of the plan, which estimates a $20 million cost to legalise the car for North America, could rest on a sample drive by the General Motors board of directors in Detroit early in August. At the same time board heavyweights, led by chairman Rick Wagoner and product czar Bob Lutz, will also drive a new long wheelbase WM Caprice luxury saloon. At one stage the WM was going to be exported to the USA as a Buick Park Lane, a plan which has been scrapped. Holden execs hope that the drive might renew GM interest in that car. But it is the SS-V, with its 6.0-litre V8 (complete with 360hp), six-speed automatic transmission, 19-inch wheels and aggressive bodykit that Holden chairman and managing director Denny Mooney sees as having the most potential as a replacement for the current Pontiac Grand Prix. While Mooney won’t be at the board-drive, he will be in Detroit the week prior at a leadership meeting with the chance to extol the car’s virtues. “If we had available (production) capacity I’d love to take the SS because it would make a great Pontiac,” said Mooney. “Pontiac is already talking about the fact they want to go rear-wheel-drive. A brand like Pontiac, in my opinion, could take this car and sell it. “I think if you talk to anyone at Pontiac they’ll tell you they’d love a rear-wheel-drive performance Grand Prix. “But I am not going to over-sell this thing. We are going to send these cars over there and let them speak for themselves. Mooney said the $20 million legalisation costs would primarily relate to complying with crash regulations. “Between engineering, prototyping and tooling it would be in the neighbourhood of $20 million,” he said. “We’d have to crash a lot of cars to run their specific tests, but from a performance standpoint it wouldn’t be an issue.” In part that’s because the new Commodore’s fuel tank moves in front of the rear axle line, something crucial to US crash approval. Sending the SS to the USA to replace the ageing front-wheel-drive Grand Prix would extend Holden and Pontiac’s relationship, established when the Monaro was exported to the USA as a GTO from late 2003. That deal has only just expired. But Mooney was also adamant that such a plan would depend on the demand for VE and WM in the domestic and established export markets. The Elizabeth assembly plant in South Australia has a capacity of about 145,000 cars per year. He does not expect spare capacity for the first 12 months of VE’s life. “We have to wait and see how this car goes. If we had the available capacity then we’d be looking at the US as a potential market. While built-up exports to the USA are no more than a plan at the moment, both VE and WM will be sent from the Elizabeth assembly plant to the Middle East as Chevrolets. The WM will be sold as a Buick Royaum in China, but will be sent in a ‘CKD’ (completely knocked-down) pack to be assembled on-site. It will also be exported to Korea and sold there as a Daewoo. The short wheelbase SS-V or an even more sporty Holden Special Vehicles version will go to the UK in extremely limited numbers, replacing the out-of-production Monaro. Cars are also being sent to Opel in Europe for evaluation. But Mooney is dubious about a positive reception there. The export of built-up cars is a separate deal to Holden’s role as a developer of the rear-wheel-drive architecture that makes it's debut underpinning VE and WM. That will be used by a number of future vehicles to be manufactured in Asia and the USA as well as Australia.