GM Doing Just Fine With Former Pontiac OwnersBy AutoObserver Staff October 26, 2011
One year after General Motors Co. shut down its Pontiac division for good, the company has managed to maintain and even improve its retention of former Pontiac owners, according to data analyzed by Edmunds.com. The decision to kill Pontiac was a controversy inside and outside of GM and when the company shuttered its storied performance-oriented division last October, there was widespread speculation that a disproportionate number of disenfranchised Pontiac buyers would shop outside the newly-downsized GM family that now consists of just four brands. But Edmunds.com data indicate that 39.9 percent of Pontiac owners who traded in for a new vehicle this year opted for another GM vehicle.
This retention rate is eight percentage points better than GMs retention rate of Pontiac buyers in 2010 and represents the highest retention rate since 2007, when the rate also 39.9 percent. As a replacement, Chevrolet brand has been most responsible this year for retaining former Pontiac owners, with 28.1 percent of them choosing Chevy as their new brand. Edmunds.coms analysis discovered that Chevy sales to former Pontiac owners were particularly strong in January and February of this year when GM engaged strategic incentive programs to retain Pontiac customers. In shutting down Pontiac, a large concern for GM was whether Pontiac buyers particularly longtime loyalists would stay with GM when trading or buying another new model. The companys calculated risk that it could retain those customers with targeted incentives and other programs appears to have worked, at least so far.
Outside of GM, Ford Motor Co. has been the biggest beneficiary of Pontiacs demise. A year after Pontiac showrooms went dark, an estimated 9.4 percent of former owners jumped to Ford in 2011, but the rate is down from 2010s 12.4 percent. American Honda Motor Co. Inc. and Toyota Motor Sales USA each have managed to conquest an estimated 7.4 percent of Pontiac customers, which for both brands is a lower rate than last year. When AutoObserver first reported the news of Pontiacs demise in 2009, the percentage of people who traded their Pontiac for another Pontiac dropped to 16 percent, while at the time 50 percent of owners of other GM brands traded for another GM model, according to Edmunds.com data.