Pontiac G8 May Live On

By Brendan Moore

07.14.2009

2009-pontiac-g8-gxpBob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM, says that consumers are now aware of the Pontiac G8 and increasing their purchases of the critically acclaimed RWD sports sedan, and that may be a good reason to lift the death sentence on the car.

The problem is that the G8’s home, the Pontiac brand, is being razed, making it an orphan.

So, if the car continues, it will need to be housed within another brand, and will probably also need a new model name. Mr. Lutz is thinking about bringing back the Caprice nameplate for the second life of the G8 in the United States. The car would then live on as a Chevrolet Caprice.

A longer-wheelbase version of the Pontiac G8 platform, which is the Holden Commodore platform from GM’s Australian subsidiary, is used for a Chevrolet Caprice that is sold in the Middle East currently.

The new GM is probably going to live or die from the success or failure of their Chevrolet brand going forward, that much is known. So, that brand is going to get a lot of attention from the marketing people, and perhaps the internal thinking was to give the car a strong brand for its second act.

Right now, the car is basically selling itself on the strength of its own innate goodness. It’s not getting any marketing money, and most people know the Pontiac division has received a death sentence, so that is also a huge minus.

Against all odds, the car is increasing its sales every month.

All good news, certainly, as we love the Pontiac G8 here at 100 Autosavant Plaza, and would like to see it stick around, no matter what the badge. But, I am not too excited about the Caprice name for a car like the G8. If the decision is made to continue production of the soon-to-be-former G8, I would imagine that someone at GM could come up with another new name for the car besides Caprice before it gets moved over from the barely-breathing Pontiac.

But, a minor quibble. If the G8 is selling with no marketing, and, an almost-dead brand tied to it’s tail, then I suppose it will sell as a Chevrolet Caprice as well.

But I think GM will sell even more of those new Chevrolet sports sedans if they ditch the Caprice name.

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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21 Comments

  1. There is a god after all. He just has a weird sense of humor, that’s all.

    I don’t even care if it’s called the Caprice, the name of the wallowing family sedan.

  2. I’m fine with the Caprice name, although I would prefer that it be called the Impala if it moved to Chevrolet (and the current Impala going away). It would be fantastic to see the car live on in the US as a Chevrolet, and I don’t care what it’s called. I don’t see anything wrong with the Caprice name, plus it might be popular with the police.

  3. I’m fine with the Caprice name too although I think it would had been cool to use the name Impala or BelAir or Chevelle. Also, I taught of suggesting the name Opala, who mean “opal” in Portugese, who was used for a Chevrolet model who was a reskinned mid-1960s Opel Rekord in Brazil from 1969 to 1992. Or even Cheyenne, who was used for a trim level of the full-size pick-up truck in the 1970s and 1980s. If there was a Buick variant, the name Wildcat sounds good with an aftermarket performance model known as GS or GN depending if it’s the 6.2L V8 or a turbocharged V6.

    And maybe the aborted pick-up version known as G8ST could be revived as the El Camino.

  4. Interestingly this car is used by both the Australian and New Zealand Police as pursuit cars, they use the less exciting V6s for normal police duties.

  5. It still has to be approved by GM’s board, so it’s hasn’t happened yet.

  6. @monkeylove – hence the “may” in the headline. I don’t see anyone either in the article or in the comments indicating that it’s a definite.

  7. Call it the Chevelle maybe?

  8. Here’s an Idea, how about they call it a Chevy “Commodore”.
    While they are at it they can also bring out the Holden Ute they were talking about last year.

  9. One reason behind resurrecting the Caprice name is an appeal to police departments. The old Caprice was by far the favorite of police, and if GM can keep the price low enough, a new Caprice should give the Crown Vic a run for it’s money. As for using the Impala name: not going to happen. As boring as the current Impala is, it is one of the best selling Chevys, outselling the far superior Malibu. No way Chevy jettisons much needed sales.

  10. Nova!

  11. If the car is selling well all by itself, what will it do at Chevrolet dealerships?

    CAFE will stop GM from selling all they want.

  12. Just kill the car govt motors is not going to let you have anything that is not pratical and it is made in foreign land downunder…….

  13. It wasn’t mentioned whether the GXP will also live and I guess that would have to be a Super Sport since it would be a Chevy.

    Is it too much to hope for a ZO6 or Blue Devil equivalent showing up in the G8, or whatever it’s called when it’s a Chevy?

  14. Funnily enough the long wheel base luxo barge version of the Commodore and the G8 (known in Oz as the Statesman) is also built in China and sold as a Buick.

    So….Chev can have the Commodore sedan AND station wagon in V6 (a new 3.0L version is coming very soon), V8 and HSV Clubsport V8(GXP).

    Buick can have the long wheel base luxo barge with the V8 and HSV V8 Senator variants

    GMC can get the ute version – in V6, V8 and HSV V8 Maloo variants.

    The V6 versions will keep the CAFE crowd happy and the V8’s will keep everyone else happy in the hoonage department…..especially since all versions will soon be available with cylinder deactivation and stop-go tech to improve fuel economy. And a diesel engine from VM Motori will soon find its way under the bonnet too

  15. Maybe GM should take a realistic view at the recent sales data. For the first 8 months or so this vehicle has been a sales dud. What changed in the last two months that could possibly alter the public’s perception of this product? Could it be that GM announced that they were killing Pontiac?

    It’s very likely that this recent surge in sales is just a rush to go out and buy a Pontiac for old times sake. There are thousands of former GTO, Trans Am, or Firebird owners that feel some sort of connection to Pontiac so they have rushed out to buy one. Once they got to the dealer, that they haven’t given a second thought in ten years, they realize the entire fleet is made up of rental cars. The only vehicle that shows any semblance to the muscle cars of yore is the G8. The conservative looks of the model deter them at first, but the $8,000 on the hood help sway them to pull the trigger. More than a few of these may see this as an investment since they know that there is a realtively large population of F-body mullet headed Pontiac fans that would be more than happy to overpay for a used Pontiac V8 3 or 4 years down the road just because it says Pontiac.

    For the new GM’s sake, I hope they keep in mind that this vehicle is too expensive to build to keep in the lineup. The demand at the pricepoint that it needs to be at to make money is too high for the people who desire it. They should also make sure Nutz Lutz is taking all his meds or at least that he reads GM’s official positions on products before he makes public comments.

    Without going too far out on a limb, I think you can officially say the G8 or any other iteration of RWD Aussie V8s are dead in the U.S. market.

  16. I can’t see nostalgia driving sales of the G8. If people wanted an iconic Pontiac, I think they’d pick something with proven collector value that has a tin indian on it. And people just showing up at a Pontiac dealer just to buy something that says Pontiac on it just because Pontiac is going out of business, and then picking the G8 out of desperation because all the other cars suck? They must have a Pontiac, any Pontiac, and they’re making the best of a bad situation?

    Not likely in my opinion. Seems like a far-fetched theory to me.

    I think they’re showing up to buy the G8 and nothing else.

  17. I disagre with everrything Lance48 says esxept the part about it bein to expensive to built. If it stays in GM it needs to be sold for more munney and then the buyers go away.

  18. I think there was also a plan to put a 260 horsepower four-cylinder in the G8 at one time, wasn’t there? I wonder if that’s still in the cards if they keep the G8 around. I’d look at a powerful 4-cylinder G8, but it would to be at least a match for the 6-cylinder version.

  19. Beat-Nick,

    Do you also disagree with my comment regarding Mr. Lutz? It looks like they may have reined him in a bit. Demonstrated by the retraction they forced him to make today.

  20. Yes, Lance48, you got me on tha one. Lutz an GM look like idiots now.

  21. I’d rather drive a rear wheel drive car that comes from Australia than a lot of the other rubbish on our roads. At least the G8 is in the muscle car tradition. Our car makers once ruled the world, now they are the laughing stock.

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