World First: Holden's Chatham challenge
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Holden New Zealand is celebrating its 65th anniversary and its new SUV lineup with a world first — a car launch on Chatham Island.
Five Holden vehicles have been shipped 828km to the island for a fortnight launch event for the New Zealand media. Included in the Chatham-based SUV lineup are the Trax, Equinox, Trailblazer, Acadia and the Commodore tourer with AWD.
Holden Australia and New Zealand are focusing on the SUV lineup that has increased from three to five in the past year with the new campaign: “This is how we SUV”.
Holden NZ’s managing director, Marc Ebolo, said the focus was “we all want Holden to be successful and are confident we have the foundations to realise this goal”.
“The arrival of new models such as Equinox and Acadia means there is now a Holden to fulfil every requirement across all segments from small through to medium, large and 4X4.
“All the SUV models offer their own special set of characteristics, ranging from the small and nimble Trax, powerful turbo-charged Equinox, the 4X4 Trailblazer with impressive tow capability, all-wheel drive Tourer and seven-seat Acadia.
“With this comprehensive and very competitive SUV portfolio, we have every expectation Holden will feature high on the consideration list for new SUV buyers.” As well as the news of the world-first launch on the island came the reveal of a price reduction of the SUV lineup for May and June.
The Trax is now priced at $25,990 (was $32,990), the Equinox LS is $29,990 (was $35,990) the General Motors American built Acadia LT is now $47,990 (a $2000 reduction) while the Commodore tourer is $59,990 (was $65,990). But the best bargain has to be the Trailblazer LTZ, down to $49,990 from $62,990. That’s a whopping $13,000 saving.
And the Trailblazer was also the talk of the island as it was a diesel SUV — a model favoured by the locals. It was also a stand-out in the drive programme from the town of Waitangi to Owenga to see the Tommy Solomon statue; a memorial for the last full Moriori, and then to the corners of the island.
With tarmac only in Waitangi, the rest of the island roads are gravel with a speed limit of 80km/h — something the locals didn’t adhere to as our convoy of Holdens were often overtaken by a islander in a ute.
The island is relatively flat though it boasts approximately 27 volcanoes. It’s also famous for being around 65 million years old — hence the Holden 65th anniversary on the island.
With the island famous for fishing for blue cod and crayfish, farming is a small aspect of livelihood, and many areas are covered in gorse. But there were plenty off-road areas we could explore in the Holdens — with only the tourer left at two farm gates due to the undulation and ruts on the farmland.
The highlight of the day (as well as freshly caught crayfish and paua) had to be a visit to the formidable Helen Bint. The Chatham Islander moved back to her grandparents’ category 1 listed historic stone cottage nine years ago and has no electricity or running water — but a phone line and a love of cars.
With her ute in the garage, she was smitten with the black seven-seater Acadia that she thought could double as the island’s hearse because of its size and colour.
Probably not a good marketing campaign.
And the Acadia easily managed her “drive’” a 1km route with deep channels and rough terrain, finishing under a 200m high rocky outcrop.