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GM 4x4 duo hit delay

Date: 28 June 2006

Vauxhall/Opel Antara

The launches of General Motors' new 4x4 duo, the Chevrolet Captiva and Vauxhall Antara, have been delayed until early 2007 after right-hand-drive diesel models failed to match petrol-powered counterparts in EuroNCAP crash tests.

Officially GM has put the embarrassing delay down to "complex technical issues" but the EuroNCAP routines highlighted "passenger compartment intrusion", which did not affect either the left-hand-drive diesel cars or right-hand-drive petrol equivalents.

With diesel critical to fleet and overall market success in the compact 4x4 sector, particularly for the first Korean-built Chevrolet since GM bought Daewoo in 2002, GM has put the UK introduction of both vehicles on hold.

This means the five-seat £18,500-plus 4x4 Antara's introduction, originally planned for December, and September's launch of the larger five and seven-seater Captiva, priced from £16,000, have both been put back to next Spring.

Whereas the Antara will initially only be available with four-wheel-drive, Captiva customers will also have the option of cheaper two-wheel-drive variants.

The Captiva will debut at next month's London international motor show and the more coupe-like Antara is due to appear at the September Paris show. This is a bonus for the new Land Rover Freelander, being unveiled at London and due for an autumn sales introduction.

A GM source said: "We resolved engineering issues on the right-hand-drive diesel cars and NCAP was part of that. To ensure normal high standards a durability testing programme is underway in Europe."

Right-hand-drive installation of the 2.0-litre, 150PS diesel engine, particularly steering and engine component location, resulted in a rating one star lower than left-hand-drive diesels, or right-hand-drive 2.4-litre petrol models.

Meanwhile, GM has frozen UK advertising and marketing campaigns, including specific fleet initiatives, although the left-hand-drive European media ride and drive programme is going ahead in September.