Edmunds: GM To Hit the Kill Switch on Pontiac

By Bill Visnic April 24, 2009

Pressured on all fronts to right-size its business in order to stave off a bankruptcy that's likely to happen anyway, General Motors Corp. next week is likely to announce the latest casualty in its crash-dive restructuring: its lost-in-yesteryear Pontiac division.

2009 Pontiac Solstice - 210.JPG Edmunds.com's Inside Line , like AutoObserver a part of the Edmunds.com organization, reported yesterday that a source at GM indicated the company is likely to announce on Monday that it will fold Pontiac, a name that has been part of the GM empire since 1926.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg today also reported GM will shelve Pontiac, which achieved its true prominence in the 1960s when it introduced the GTO in 1964, a car widely credited with beginning one of Detroit's most beloved marketing and engineering phases -- its muscle-car era.

In earlier discussions of its restructuring, GM spoke stridently of retaining Pontiac as a satellite brand offering a few specialty models. Although sales have not been encouraging in the current depressed U.S. market, Pontiac's Australia-sourced G8 sport sedan has enjoyed a certain amount of critical acclaim for its blend of performance and affordability, and the Solstice two-seater is eye-catching as either a roadster or a coupe, despite compromised packaging and utility.

2010 Pontiac G8 ST.jpg But Pontiac's main problem has been an outgrowth from the root GM problem: too many badge-engineered products that over the years drifted erratically from the brand's successful performance-car heritage. Mainstream sedans such as the current G6 and the Vibe hatchback have no real reason for wearing Pontiac garb, much less crossover vehicles (Torrent) economy cars (the stillborn G3) and now-discontinued minivans.

It appears, however, GM has made a case for keeping its GMC truck division, which typically is found paired with Pontiac in many markets. The company had proposed consolidating GMC and Buick into one showroom, along with Pontiac. Now with the removal of Pontiac from the equation, sources are indicating GM is making the case to federal overseers to retain GMC, which reputedly is a profitable unit.

PHOTOS:

1. Pontiac Solstice wowed when introduced, but the bloom faded when its performance packaging deficiences were understood.

2. Pontiac said last year it would import the G8-based sport truck, a new-age El Camino revival, but soon shelved the idea.

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fulcrumb says: 8:39 PM, 04.25.09

I think the G6 is one of the best cars at Pontiac. A sedan that is perceived to be sportier than either a Malibu or an Aura. GM has nothing else in its lineup that is like the Vibe, either.
Don't forget that while the original GTO was the halo car in the '60s at Poncho, there were a lot more Tempest 4-doors and Catalina wagons being sold. Ah, well. They lost me when they discontinued putting the Chief Pontiac nite lite on the hood.

fulcrumb says: 8:59 PM, 04.25.09

Furthermore, long term I think it would make more sense to drop Buick and keep Pontiac. GM's got Cadillac and GMC to cover the SUV and crossovers, they can do without the La Crosse and keep the Grand Prix, and reformulate the Lucerne as a 21st century (no pun intended) Bonneville.
Then you could have a nice, comprehensive two franchise structure; Chevrolet/Cadillac and Pontiac/GMC.

srd275 says: 10:18 PM, 04.25.09

You can't cut your way to success. What has been missing in the whole debate over Pontiac/Buick/GMC is that they really are one division, not 3. Further Buick is even worse than Pontiac in sales. They have only 3 vehicles. Though they are going to get more cars, how many kids want' to get a "Buick". Not many. Pontiac compliments the Buick/GMC products.

If they kill Pontiac, all three brands are dead and so is GM. Thoese sales will not go to Chevy or Cadillac. That is not only wishful thinking, it is poor thinking.

srd275 says: 10:19 PM, 04.25.09

You can't cut your way to success. What has been missing in the whole debate over Pontiac/Buick/GMC is that they really are one division, not 3. Further Buick is even worse than Pontiac in sales. They have only 3 vehicles. Though they are going to get more cars, how many kids want' to get a "Buick". Not many. Pontiac compliments the Buick/GMC products.

If they kill Pontiac, all three brands are dead and so is GM. Thoese sales will not go to Chevy or Cadillac. That is not only wishful thinking, it is poor thinking.

altimadude00 says: 7:11 PM, 04.26.09

Buick is not a "kids" brand. It never was. Buick is a cash cow (in China) so dropping that brand is like shooting yourself in the foot. Pontiac is a North-American only brand, and has relied on the image of performance and the memory of past performance to sell its rebadged Holdens, Toyotas, Daewuos, and Chevys. Badge engineering in-of-itself isn't the problem, the profit return from Pontiac is just not enough to ensure its survival.

euroman71 says: 6:09 AM, 04.27.09

I never thought that GM would consider dropping Pontiac brand. I've owned 3 pontiacs and currently own an 04'Vibe and I've always enjoyed them. I was disappointed when GM canceled Pontiac Firebird back in 03. It used to say something about the brand. I can see why now they don't need this brand. Besides a recently introduced G8, there are no exciting models in Pontiac lineup. Even the newly redesigned Vibe looks awful in its exterior styling and interior materials which consist mainly of hard plastic and cheap looking parts, worse than my 04 model. Essentially, I see GM only retaining 3 brands - Cadillac, Chevy, and Buick. I think that Saturn will be sold, and later this year GMC will be killed off. Really, you have all the trucks in Chevy lineup, why need GMC? Cadillac is needed as a luxury brand, and Buick name is extremely popular and profitable in China. That's my assessment of GM

pafromfl says: 7:18 AM, 04.27.09

Buick is dying brand in the USA while Pontiac would rebound with the economy. They should combine Buick and Cadillac into one division called "Buick" in China and "Cadillac" in the USA. USA Buick buyers would be happy to own a car named "Cadillac". GMC should make commercial heavy-duty vehicles and Chevy should sell "passenger" trucks. There is no need for GMC showrooms.

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