GM Says They Would Sell Solstice/Sky Factory

By Brendan Moore

05.11.2009

gm-logo-smallAccording to an article in Automotive News, Fritz Henderson, the current CEO of General Motors, stated that GM would be open to offers for the Wilmington, Delaware plant that makes the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. The plant also produces a very small amount of Opel GT roadsters built on the same Kappa rear-wheel-drive small-car platform.

If the Solstice Coupe had not had its young life cut short, it would also have been manufactured at the same plant on a continuous basis. Current plans call for only 1000 Solstice Coupes to be produced before all of Pontiac shuts down for good. It is assumed that a new owner would get the production capacity of all the models built from the Kappa platform.

Chrysler has also put a factory up for sale; the stand-alone Dodge Viper plant. Chrysler has not announced any buyer for the Viper production facility at this point.

The Solstice/Sky twins have been the segment leader every year since the platform debut in 2007, outselling the Mazda MX-5 (Miata).

Henderson was quoted as telling reporters, “If someone were to approach us with a proposal that made good sense for our people, we would be open. We are not out actively trying to market a plant, per se. But if a party were interested, we’d be very open to this and would encourage it. We haven’t had any inbounds on the subject at this point.”

2009-pontiac-solstice-coupe-rear

Hmm, a small RWD platform built to performance parameters – that’s interesting. I had a Pontiac engineer tell me when the Solstice debuted that the Kappa platform could easily accommodate both a V6 and a small-block V8, in addition to its production-model four-cylinder.

If only there were a buyer, perhaps the high end of the performance limits of the Kappa platform could be explored.

If only I had some extra billions of dollars, eh? You figure 10, 20 million bucks for the plant, and the rest left over for styling, marketing, development and testing, etc. over the next decade.

Hey, maybe I could get the next owners of Saturn to retail my new sports cars.

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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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5 Comments

  1. How about a new version of the BMW 2002 or the Volvo Amazon? Wonderful little RWD 2-dr. Sports sedans.

    You gotta like that!

  2. Isn’t the world crying out for small cars? This seems like it would be a pretty good opportunity for someone to pick up great assets on the cheap and be in business immediately.

    Wish I could do it.

  3. I hear that the Kappa platform is a money loser due to its complexity (hydroforming, etc.) and (probably) low volume.

    Still, suppose Saturn was bought by someone with a few billion to burn (literally). Why not, to get the volume up, build a complete lineup of Kappa-based vehicles? In addition to the Sky roadster, add +2 seating and a roof to create a Sky coupe. Stretch it a little more, add rear doors and a BMW 1/3-killer is born. Then, like the Chevy Nomad concept, you could turn it into a mini wagon. Just to round out the lineup I keep the Astra and Aura in the range, if I can acquire these profitably (read, cheap) from the former mothership.

    CAFE tells me I don’t need a V8. The turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-l Ecotec makes 260 bhp, so I spend some money further developing it –and a normally-aspirated version– to make it best-in-class. I have a few dollars left so I buy a dual-clutch transmission from Borg-Warner. I hire Lotus to consult on the ride-handling balance.

    Since I already own the well-regarded Saturn dealer network, I spend whatever is left to further improve dealer training and customer service. Part of improving customer service is that I will provide a loaner and wash the car before returning it to the owner. This will be partly paid for by the fact that we will retain the no-haggle pricing policy.

  4. Is a Solstice Coupe really going to be manufactured, given Pontiac’s death sentence? It’ll either be a collector’s car or an unloved, unsellable oddball… or perhaps both.

  5. i’m kinda surprised that tesla hasn’t tried to take advantage of some of these factory closures to pick up some manufacturing capacity

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