GM Holden Ltd. will export up to 50,000 Australian-built Commodores annually to the U.S. as rebadged Pontiacs.

Australian newspapers report Bob Lutz, General Motors Corp. vice chairman-global product development, confirms the plan at the North American International Auto Show.

The announcement was not due to be made until next month's Chicago Auto Show, but Lutz apparently jumped the gun.

"We are yet to officially announce it," Lutz is quoted as saying.

Minutes earlier, GM Holden brass at the Detroit show declined to answer questions about the Commodore's export program.

Lutz says the Commodore SS, the V-8 version of the sedan, will be rebadged as the Pontiac G8 to fill a void in Pontiac's lineup. The car is to be unveiled at the Chicago show.

"We're seriously planning to import a lot of Commodore SSs in the guise of Pontiac G8s," Lutz is quoted as saying. "It's such a logical thing to do."

GM's global strategy requires every model to be feasible for any market, Lutz says, and Australia will see an increasing variety of vehicles from the U.S., including the new Chevrolet Camaro.

Lutz did not specify when shipments of the rebadged Commodores will start, but the Australian reports suggest late this year or early 2008.

The newest version of the Holden Commodore was released in Australia in August.