Federal regulations torpedo import of Holden Ute

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Holden Ute

Federal regulations and tariffs have scuttled the potential import of the Holden Ute, which could have been a new Chevrolet El Camino. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Holden Motors, General Motors’ Australian division, has cooked up some seriously cool cars in the other country where muscle cars reign supreme. One, the Holden Ute, won’t be imported due to federal regulations, one of many cool cars that have been stymied by the federales.

Holden Ute could have resuscitated El Camino

For many years, there was niche of vehicles called a “coupe utility” in the technical literature. The format was half a car in the front and a pickup bed in the back. In the U.S., there were models such as the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino, both of which were produced for 20 years or more, the Dodge Rampage and the Scamp, the Rampage re-badged as a Plymouth, and the Subaru Brat.

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These vehicles are very popular in other countries but especially Australia, where they are known as as “ute.” Short for “utility,” they offer the cargo-hauling of a truck with car handling and fuel economy.

GM, according to AutoBlog, has been looking at importing the Holden Ute, but federal regulations have scuttled the venture.

Half a car equals a whole truck

Federal regulations treat different cars and trucks differently, mostly for tariff purposes. Passenger cars have a relatively low tariff, but trucks, on the other hand, have a 35 percent tariff imposed on them. Part of the issue is that the Holden Ute, and the Ford Falcon Ute, are both mostly sold as commercial vehicles, ergo the tariff applies.

Combined also, according to Australia’s Herald Sun, with recent activities of the American dollar, Holden is only going to export vehicles that have an economic case, meaning that can be profitably exported. That is also the reason one won’t probably be seeing the Falcon Ute at any Houston, Miami, Seattle or Brooklyn Ford dealerships anytime soon.

However, that hasn’t stopped GM from importing other Holden vehicles. The Holden Commodore is getting re-badged as the Chevrolet SS when it gets released next year and is currently sold as the Caprice PPV and previously was the Pontiac G8 and GTO. There were plans, before the death of Pontiac, for the Ute to be sold as the Pontiac Sport Truck, but that was shelved due to GM’s bankruptcy and the end of Pontiac.

Other cars verboten by Uncle Sam

Federal regulations have blocked the way for a number of cars besides the Holden Ute. Granted, many are supercars so pricey that few can get a loan for a car that expensive and some cars aren’t sold here for financial reasons, but some desirable rides that Yankees can’t buy due to The Man.

For instance, according to CNN, mandatory airbag regulations meant the Range Rover Defender, Britain’s version of a Jeep Wrangler, couldn’t be sold after 1998, and the tough-as-nails utility box has been gone from these shores ever since. Airbag regulations have also all but chased Lotus out of the U.S. Emissions and crash regulations, according to Fox News, also prevent Tata, parent company of Range Rover and Jaguar, from selling the Nano, the world’s cheapest car at roughly $2,200.



Herald Sun


Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/slideshow/leisure/2011/08/09/cars-cant-buy-here/#slide=2

Holden Motors: http://www.holden.com.au/home

Ford Australia: http://www.ford.com.au/

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