Pontiac Given Death Sentence, GM Speeds Saturn’s Demise

By Brendan Moore

04.27.2009

gm-logo-smallGM’s press conference this morning brought the news we have been expecting; that is, the announcement of Pontiac’s closure. Pontiac is gone next year, sooner than many thought last week. Additionally, in remarks made to the press, Fritz Henderson, CEO of GM, stated that no Pontiac models would be rebadged as other General Motors surviving brands.

If you want a new G8 or a Solstice, you had better get one soon. At least both models should be discounted considerably in the near future.

Somewhat oddly, GM said that they may sell the Pontiac Vibe through 2010, depending on how the contract with Toyota shakes out. The Vibe is the brother of the Toyota Matrix, manufactured through a joint production agreement between Toyota and GM.

Additionally, GM mentioned, just as an aside, that no more Hummers would be built after this model year.

GM also announced that the company intends to slash the amount of dealers by half as part of their restructuring acceleration.

In a surprise move, General Motors more or less pulled the rug out from underneath Saturn, stating that the last Saturn would be built this year as opposed to their previous assurance that Saturn would continue until 2011. Now the company plans to have only four brands in 2010; Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet and GMC, the truck division.

So, as with Pontiac, if you want one of the new Saturns not shared with other GM divisions (Sky, Astra), you should act soon.

All in all, a very tough and painful day for General Motors.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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7 Comments

  1. Dumb move as far as I’m concerned. GMC should have gobe down before Pontiac. If GM closed GMC, they might lose a few consumers, but not many, and they wouldn’t lose any commercial customers. Business customers don’t care if the truck grill says Chevrolet or GMC, they only care about specs, durability, price, and quality.

    I don’t care about Buick, but I guess they do pretty well in China, so I guess GM has got to keep them around. I don’t car about Saturn, either. Hummer? You’ve got to be kidding. But Pontiac was performance and is that now going to be Chevrolet only? And why the hell wouldn’t they take the G8 and move it to one of the other brands? And the Saturn Astra with a six-speed would do ok as a Chevrolet, above the Aveo and below the Malibu.

    I’m sure the G8 will be cheap on the new car lot, but you know it will be even cheaper as one year old used car. Resale value will really drop, just like with the Oldsmobiles. It will be a big fast bargain.

    I think GM has made a really terrible mistake in dropping Pontiac instead of GMC or Buick. They really do need to have less dealers, though. That’s a good idea.

  2. I’m disappointed that the G8 will not become a Chevy Caprice or something along those lines (as I’m sure the Holden folks are, since the car would sell in bigger volumes as a Chevy than it did as a Pontiac).

    The G8 is a heck of a good car, so it’s always sad to see a good car fleeing the US market.

  3. I think this is the end of GM, not a new beginning.

  4. I too am disappointed to see the Solstice/Sky, Astra and G8 going away, as they are solid cars in GM’s lineup. Whether badged as Saturn, Pontiac, Chevrolet, or Buick, they are among GM’s best.

    That being the case, the restructuring is being done to satisfy the US government. The Astra and the G8 aren’t built here in the US, so those cars became sacrificial nameplates. GM shows they are reducing the number of nameplates and dealerships, while not cutting any US production/jobs.

  5. The G8 will live on in the Camaro (they share the basic architecture and driveline of the Zeta platform) so I wouldn’t be too sad about its North American demise. Given that it didn’t sell well anyway…..

    The demise of the Astra gives more wiggle room for the new Cruze that will form much the basic architecture of the next RoW Astra anyway…..so no real sadness there either.

    Simplicity of nameplates is the way to go….nowhere on the planet is there such badge diversity (and yet product homogenity) within one company and it is fair to say that it hasn’t been a success for quite some time. Outside the US, only the Chevrolet and Cadillac brands have any sort of ‘awareness’…..all the other GM brands are merely…names. Might be best to focus on them – Cadillac (luxury), Buick (family), Chevrolet (performance).

  6. The G8 isn’t getting moved to Chevy for the same reason Pontiac wasn’t planning on making a second generation of it — it’s not selling well.

    I think GM’s been in a catch-22 with Pontiac for a long time. The division had too many employees and too much manufacturing capacity for a performance-orientated niche line up, yet by filling out their line up with re-badged Chevys killed whatever brand equity they once had. Pontiac was neither fish nor fowl. At least now it can perhaps one day be reborn as a meaningful badge.

  7. So long GM and Chrysler. I’m going to Honda from Saturn. I don’t know why they don’t have a hybrid dealership. One from each of the original brands. For the most part they are the same platforms. A Cadillac Fleetwood, a Buick Electra, an Olds 442, Pontiac GTO, Saturn Vue, Chevy Camaro and Vette

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