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American Vehicle Sales

November 3rd, 2008
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We've recently visited Amercian Vehicle Sales in Rowville, Victoria to test-drive a number of American SUV’s and full size pickups. General Manager James Hill greeted us, whose family has been running the specialised conversion business for over fifteen years.

American Vehicle Sales is firmly in the GM corner of the ring of the GM vs Ford fight so don’t bother looking for any blue oval product here. The team rightfully claims to be true leaders in Australia for converting Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer and Cadillac’s from left to right hand drive and after looking closely at the quality we can assure you, it aint a backyard job.

James and his team combine quality workmanship and an ISO quality assurance program to guarantee a high level of customer satisfaction. We test drove the Hummer H2 however other SUV’s available at American Vehicle Sales include the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe and the GMC Yukon. For those customers that want that little bit of extra personalization or uniqueness (pimped), James can modify and accessorise your ride with a wide range of options.

American Vehicle Imports also supply a wide range of commercial vehicles perfectly suited to towing heavy loads.  We got behind the wheel of a couple of Chevrolet Silverado's but you can also order the equivalent GMC or Cadillac full size truck.

If your not familiar with the name that might be because American Vehicle Sales (AVS) previously traded as Chevrolet Australia before adding the Hummer H2 approximately five years ago.  The name change also corresponded to the relocation of premises to a new larger factory in Rowville, a suburb in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

The entire operation is a lot larger than it first appears. Over 80 staff are employed by AVS in three countries, with the majority of pre-fabrication conversation work being done in Sri Lanka where there is no shortage of fiberglass body workers. An average conversion from left to right hand drive takes 300 to 360 man hours over approximately 4 months. A sign of the quality of the work is that the average person would have no idea that a vehicle has been converted when stepping into a finished model.

For example to convert a Hummer H2 an entirely new dashboard is replaced,  the window wipers are swapped around, most switches are converted, the gear selector is positioned the new correct way and even the cupholders are moved to a new location.

The heating and air-conditioning unit is also shifted to enable sufficient room for the driver’s feet and all AVS conversions entail a new steering rack and steering box rather than a shortcut chain conversion that leaves most of the gear on the left hand side.

All the instruments are converted from imperial to metric with the new dials sourced from Canada, a fellow Right Hand Drive market.

The typical customer, if there is such a thing, is usually a business owner or a retiree. One benefit of owning a large truck is the tax concessions that go with having such a large towing capacity.

Over seventy per cent of AVS sales come from outside Victoria. AVS also sell their vehicles to South Africa, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. GM V8’s are very similar to those found in the locally built Holden’s so they are easy to work on and owners who put their vehicle under a lot of stress often go to specialist 4WD workshops that pay close attention to fatigue on parts such as bushes and joints.

Overall the American trucks are quite simple to service, with the typical fuel filter and oil filter changer, nothing too over complicated.

During our drives with James in the passenger seat telling us all about his company, we passed another Silverado which he pointed out was a customer’s car. The owner of the car gave us a wave as we drove past which is not what most owners would ever do if they had bought their car from a typical new car dealership. We got the feeling that AVS have a genuine concern and respect for their customers and as such have built up an impressive reputation. A lot of new customers are referrals from existing American Vehicle Sales owners.

James told us of a recent event where a customer ordered a new truck and put down his deposit. A month later GM in the states introduced ‘employee discounts’ and James rang the customer and told him his new vehicle would be a significant $9k cheaper.  The guy was so stoked that AVS were passing the savings onto him that he told two friends about the discount and they both replaced their trucks with new ones. This was a true win-win situation as AVS got 2 extra sales and the customers got the discount.

AVS are also currently working with Parks Victoria and getting 4x4 clubs into parks to clean up garbage and plant trees, with the aim of keeping parks open to a wide variety of users.

If you are interested in a new or near new GM large SUV or truck more information can be found at Amercian Vehicle Sales website.


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