25 April 2009

Pontiac really going the way of Oldsmobile?

Pontiac is the #3 selling GM brand, behind Chevy and GMC. GM markets Pontiac as the "excitement" brand. i think the Solstice is not a bad looking car, especially the coupe (the first time i saw one on the road, i thought it was a Lotus [well, it *was* from a distance]).

Saab sold 21k vehicles last year, and Hummer just a few more. I couldn't even name a Buick model. Regal? do they even still make those? (for their sake, I hope not).

i've never owned a Pontiac, and never really intended to, but i think this is a mistake. what does GM have left that captures imaginations? Corvette and Hummer come to mind, but nothing else does. that's 2 models across 8 brands. pathetic.

i hear rumor that GM may keep Pontiac for niche models; maybe that's not a bad idea. the Dodge Challenger and, errr, the other one that starts with a C, seem to be popular updated versions. perhaps Pontiac should do a proper GTO. not the Buick-like one they did a couple years ago, but a proper job.


pyker said...

How are the brands structured in the company? Is Pontiac really a separate division? Or just a label and slight customization at the design and build phase?

Matt said...

Pontiac is its own division within GM. Starting in the 60's (I think) though Pontiac, Buick, and Oldsmobile started using other GM platforms to keep costs down but still remain unique. For example there was the Chevy Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird. There was the Chevy Chevelle, Pontiac LeMans/GTO, Oldsmobile Cutlass, and Buick Skylark. At the end of the 70's GM even started using the same engine for all the brands. Olds, Buick, Pontiac and Chevy all used to have there own very distinct engine designs. Through the 80's the differences between the cars became solely skin deep. It makes sense now to consolidate and eliminate brands that don't offer any real differences besides body, badging, and marketing.

Matt said...

I have owned 3 Pontiacs over the years - '68 Firebird, '76 Phoenix (college beater car cost $50), and a '94 Trans Am. Other GM cars: (2) x '68 Camaros, '70 Chevelle SS396, '73 Cutlass (high school beater car cost $100), '71 Corvette big block.

The GTO that Pontiac did recently was a great car... except the generic looks. A shame because it was fast as hell with the potential for much more (twin turbo 700whp easy). The Aussies have a better version of it still under the Holden brand.

Buick is still around because of the demise of Olds - the other GM "luxury" brand. Pontiac is just the natural to be the next to fall.

zim said...

i looked at the Buick site -- do they really offer only 3 models? and i can't even remember their names. what a forgettable, sorry thing Buick has become.

i say GM should ditch Buick and keep Pontiac with a handful of niche models, including the Solstice.

if GM has Cadillac, why do they need to offer another luxury brand? assuming Buick can even claim that...

zim said...

Matt, do you still have that Corvette?

my mom had a Skyhawk for some years. first car I drove > 100 mph. she followed that up with a horrible, horrible Olds. can't remember the model name.

Rick said...

My preference for GM is just four marques:

1) Chevy
2) Cadillac
3) GMC


4) Opel

Seriously. Why not re-launch "excitement" ... Euro-style?

zim said...

@rick -- why GMC?

i can see GM wanting a "truck" division, but then why does Chevy also offer trucks?

maybe it should just be Chevy ("default" lineup), Cadillac (luxury), and Opel (the "alternative" brand).

kind of like Toyota/Lexus/Scion.

JustJoeP said...

you have forgotten China.

China LOVES Buicks. I once sat next to a Phillips DVD plant manager on a flight from Hong Kong to Chengdu who owned a Shanghai made Buick Le Saber. He said he'd owned one in the US made in Michigan, and it was crap. His Chinese made Le Saber, he said, was quiet, reliable, high quality. He stated that his DVD plant was being done the same way, Western tooling, Western Management, Western quality control, making fine products, with cheap Chinese labor.

The Chinese middle class is now 200 million strong. The extremely impoverished country dwellers are still 80% of the country, but there's more Chinese with disposable income, living well above their country's average wage than there are middle class Americans. Yes, there is still wealth concentration in China, but it is not as extreme as it is in the US.

In my 13 trips (about 6 months all together) in Beijing, Shanghai, WuXi, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Xian, Dailiyan, Guiyang & Chongquing, I saw Buick taxis, Buick private cars, Buick hotel cars, everywhere. yes, there were some Citroens, Hondas, Renaults, Changs, Peugots, Opels, VWs, and others (in Beijing and Shanghai, there were many more Euro exotics), but the Buicks were considered high end, "prestigious" cars, and they were omnipresent.

GM is looking at China as their main future growth market. They are concerned that if GM "goes away" in America, that the Chinese will not want them as much, and they will lose momentum and market share there.

I am confused about GM dropping GMC, when there's a ton of commercial vehicles that are GMC. Yes, dropping GMC for consumers makes sense, but there's vast commercial fleets, globally, that are GMC branded, from minibuses and school buses, to ambulances and dumptrucks and delivery trucks. That to me, sounds like a bad idea.

zim said...

some fair points there, Joe. i'll amend my statement to say that i think GM should drop Buick in the US, but if they've got it selling elsewhere, good for them.

i can see keeping GMC, as well, but i'm somehow convinced that going with fewer brands is going to help them in the long run.