There’s still an Aussie automotive industry and it’s mostly about big pickup trucks
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Less than a week after General Motors announced that the Holden brand would be retired by 2021, both HSV and Ram Trucks have announced new models – reminding us that there is still a small Aussie car industry.
Insensitive timing or simply a good PR opportunity? You can decide.
HSV, which will be a key part of any future General Motors “specialty vehicles” projects for New Zealand and Australia, has announced that the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 will be launched in March this year in right-hand drive (RHD).
Like the larger Silverado 2500 Heavy Duty released in 2018, the 1500 will be re-engineered by HSV into RHD at its Melbourne facility.
But unlike the 2500 sold here, the 1500 is the very latest model – equivalent to what’s on offer for US customers.
“Smaller” is relative. The Silverado 1500 is powered by a 6.2-litre petrol V8 engine with 313kW/624Nm, matched to a 10-speed transmission with all-wheel drive, and is capable of towing up to 4.5 tonnes. It will be launched in LTZ Premium Edition specification, including adaptive cruise control, four different drive modes and a luxury oriented cabin with leather upholstery.
Among the options are “HSV tuned” suspension and a performance airbox/exhaust package.
Pricing is yet to be announced, but expect the Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium Edition to be competitive with its arch rival, the Ram 1500 Laramie ($119,900 in NZ).
Speaking of which, Ram has just announced another variant of the RHD 1500 for the Australasian market. The $104,990 1500 Express Crew Hemi matches the full-size four-door cabin of the flagship Laramie with the more affordable Express specification.
However, it’s still a lot more lifestyle oriented than the basic Express Quad: it comes with the full UConnect infotainment system, a sports hood (that’s American for “bonnet”), black accent styling package and a selection of unique colours including Diamond Black, Bright White, Granite Crystal and Flame Red.
All Ram 1500 variants are powered by a 5.7-litre petrol V8 making 291kW/556Nm.
The Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500 are fierce rivals in the market, but they are actually built under one roof – literally. HSV is part of Walkinshaw Performance, which also co-owns ASV – the company that “remanufactures” Rams into RHD – in partnership with Ateco Automotive.
HSV and ASV are entirely separate business entities, but both based at a new Walkinshaw facility in Melbourne (opened in 2018).