Intrepidation

Pontiac’s Focused, Niche Role

49 posts in this topic

Pontiac’s Focused, Niche Role
The One Product that can pull it off.

pontiac_logo_5.jpg
By Andrew Currie


News has been grim as a of late from GM. All options are on the table with GM’s brands. Latest word is that at least one brand, Saturn or Saab may get the axe, in addition to the sell-off of Hummer. According to GM, Pontiac may very well become a niche, even one model brand. Supposedly it will be much more focused than it is now, with its lineup made of mostly rebadges.
GM is strapped for cash; it doesn’t have the money to poor into the development of an all new vehicle for Pontiac. This would seem like a major problem, as though Pontiac would once again be placed on the backburner. However of the entire current crop of Pontiac vehicles, there is one that can achieve the goal of making Pontiac a focused brand: the G8. Out of Pontiac’s lineup, the G8 is the only one that has the potential to fulfill Pontiac’s new roll.

Pontiac’s other products, the G3, G5, and G6 all compete directly with Chevrolet products. In fact two of the three are nothing more than rebadges with red lighting. The Vibe is a reskinned Toyota Matrix, which is neither sporty, nor particularly good looking, plus it’s not even a GM product besides the tweaks to make it “look” Pontiac. Even the Solstice is not unique, as Saturn has the same product with different sheetmental. It also has many rough edges, particularly the interior, the storage, and the roof. It is niche, but too much so. Besides, the Kappa platform is said to not see a redesign due to cost and not enough volume.

That leaves us with the G8. Of all of Pontiacs, this is the most “finished” one. It has been universally praised as not only the best Pontiac in decades, but one of GM’s best products. The G8 is also unique among the GM family in North America. No other brand has something quite like it. Save for Cadillac’s CTS, which is in another league, all of GM’s other large cars are FWD based. The G8’s RWD architecture is the car’s trump card. It competes with nothing in GM’s current lineup. It’s combination of sporty handling, quality interior, smart looks, excellent powertrains, and practicality means that it can fill a niche that no other car in GM’s lineup can. This car effectively embodies all that Pontiac should stand for. It also means that it can play the role of a niche, fairly low volume car, but not so low as to make it unprofitable. In fact, of all the automakers, only Chrysler’s 300 and Charger directly compete with it.

There is another advantage in the G8’s favor as well: cost. Because the G8 is essentially a Holden Commodore, and Holden does the engineering for its own market anyway, there is far less cost to continuing to use Holden for development, and make only changes needed for the NA market, than designing an entirely new model. The added capacity also benefit’s Holden’s plant and keeps it busy.
The G8 has one other Ace: it can fill the role as a once model brand, but it can also have distinct variations of said model. The Holden Ute and Sportwagon offer Pontiac unique, niche entries into the market. These models are built on the same assembly line as the sedan. This means that production could be shifted for the three based on demand, and because the sedan has already been modified for the US market, it would require fairly little cost to make the other two comply with US standard. There is nothing like them for sale in the NA market (since the discontinuation of the Magnum), which gives Pontiac a genuine purpose for being kept alive, and since it’s role is to be a niche brand, it would not be required to set the sales charts on fire.

So there you have it. Pontiac: one model in three distinct flavors. A focused, proud, niche brand.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If Pontiac is indeed to become a 1-model marque for a while, and somehow that 1 model could incorporate the G8 sedan, a G8 coupe and ST, I'm fine with that. It reminds me of pre-1961 when Pontiac had 1 basic body with a variety of styles & trims- could work really well for that small of an investment- since the point about having no domestic competition (there is foreign competition, tho) is a great one. I'd be saddened to see the Solstice go, but that tradeoff would be one I'd vote for if the 3-variant G8 line would see daylight.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, prior to GM offering "compacts" each GM brand usually had only one or two basic wheelbases. There is valid precedent here. Drop the "G8" name and just call it "Pontiac 3.6" or "Pontiac 6.0" or "Pontiac 6.2." As I've written elsewhere this could work for Buick too. I strongly disagree, however, with expanding the Pontiac line with wagons and Utes. The Magnum has proven that even an aggressively styled wagon marketed as a hatchback will not be successful in the US. And the Commodore wagon, to make matters worse, looks like a wagon. And the Ute is doomed to failure. US buyers long ago gave the final verdict on the El Camino and Ranchero. Even the fuel efficient Rampage and VW Truck didn't last. Too many compromises for too much money. Plus it blurs Pontiac's image, which is frail as it is already.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If Pontiac is indeed to become a 1-model marque for a while, and somehow that 1 model could incorporate the G8 sedan, a G8 coupe and ST, I'm fine with that. It reminds me of pre-1961 when Pontiac had 1 basic body with a variety of styles & trims- could work really well for that small of an investment- since the point about having no domestic competition (there is foreign competition, tho) is a great one. I'd be saddened to see the Solstice go, but that tradeoff would be one I'd vote for if the 3-variant G8 line would see daylight.

Or it could be an alpha. Since zeta is too heavy and not geared to CAFE 2020 according to some folks.

I would however like to see a convertible and wagon in the mix too.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Right, prior to GM offering "compacts" each GM brand usually had only one or two basic wheelbases. There is valid precedent here. Drop the "G8" name and just call it "Pontiac 3.6" or "Pontiac 6.0" or "Pontiac 6.2." As I've written elsewhere this could work for Buick too. I strongly disagree, however, with expanding the Pontiac line with wagons and Utes. The Magnum has proven that even an aggressively styled wagon marketed as a hatchback will not be successful in the US. And the Commodore wagon, to make matters worse, looks like a wagon. And the Ute is doomed to failure. US buyers long ago gave the final verdict on the El Camino and Ranchero. Even the fuel efficient Rampage and VW Truck didn't last. Too many compromises for too much money. Plus it blurs Pontiac's image, which is frail as it is already.

The Magnum's downfall was also that it was intended to be high volume, if we are going by Pontiac being a niche, lower volume brand, taht wouldn't be as much of an issue. Plus, as I said, production could be adjusted based on demand for the particular models. As well, the Ute could be successful as a niche model, because there are a lot of fans of the El Camino who want a new one. If it's alow volume product that number of potential buyers could be spread out. I thinka ll 3 would keep in line with Pontiac's focus, as performance oriented vehicles, because they all are,

Or it could be an alpha. Since zeta is too heavy and not geared to CAFE 2020 according to some folks.

I would however like to see a convertible and wagon in the mix too.

Again, if it's lower volume it should be as big of an issue, plus Holden was reportedly looking into a hybrid system for the Commodore. Alpha is a nice thought but costs more to develop for Pontiac, and with Chevy getting one already, you'd get overlap.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see a Pontiac ST as a low-volume alternative to some people coming out of trucks- I think it would prove itself viable.

Rampage & VW truck were awful vehicles with no aspirational attributes- no wonder they bombed. Besides, the 'ElCamino final verdict' was a lo-oong time ago; perceptions & wants/needs change. The investment would be minimal.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why, exactly?

Not so much at you DF, but some of the thoughts here, well it's like they aren't even listening to what GM has said.

The plug is about to be pulled from the ST, the Holden wagon was already given the thumbs down for coming to North America, besides the Zeta itself is due to be redesigned soon, but I doubt it will be now so it's future isn't looking so bright, yet many here are pinning all their hopes on Zeta, why?

As for Pontiac getting an Alpha, that won't happen either since only the corp brands of CHEVROLET, BUICK and CADILLAC will get an Alpha. Pontiac isn't a corp brand and little to no money will be spent on it, GM's words, not mine.

But some of these thoughts expressed here make for amusing reading, at least for me.

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not so much at you DF, but some of the thoughts here, well it's like they aren't even listening to what GM has said.

The plug is about to be pulled from the ST, the Holden wagon was already given the thumbs down for coming to North America, besides the Zeta itself is due to be redesigned soon, but I doubt it will be now so it's future isn't looking so bright, yet many here are pinning all their hopes on Zeta, why?

As for Pontiac getting an Alpha, that won't happen either since only the corp brands of CHEVROLET, BUICK and CADILLAC will get an Alpha. Pontiac isn't a corp brand and little to no money will be spent on it, GM's words, not mine.

But some of these thoughts expressed here make for amusing reading, at least for me.

if Zeta is to be redesign soon this further proves my idea has merit in terms of cost. Holden redesigns Zeta for it's Commodore. The G8 is a Commodore. SO the next gen G8 needs nothing beyond whatever crash standard it needs, left hand drive, and some Pontiac cues.

Unless they were just planning to kill Zeta, then that doesn't do much good.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A-ha-ha. O-ho-ho. Tee-hee.

So what would Pontiac's 1 model be, or did I miss that PR?

The G3 ? The Vibe?

Why bother.

When is Zeta slated to die?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who knows... the Corvette is its own "make" in Europe. Maybe in the future, when people ask, "What do you drive?" and you say "A Pontiac", they'll know exactly what that is.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a dead platform walking!

So GM is going to just give up selling the most popular car in Australia? GM has this luxury?

Let Holden make Zeta derivatives for the next 25 years... like the mileage GM got out of the old B-bodies, and simply import a few to the US. There are plenty of people who would buy B-bodies today (With a LS2 or L76 and a 6L80)... twelve years after the last one fell off the Arlington assembly line.

As someone else mentioned, its as simple as making it LHD, creating a plastic Pontiac nose and crash testing a few of them. This is not a huge expensive task, as Holden will already be paying for the R&D for the Commodore.

If GM can't handle this easy task, it's doomed. I'll look forward to all of GM management hitting the unemployment lines.

For a dead platform, it sure gets rave reviews in the auto magazines. Unlike the rest of the usual crap.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not so much at you DF, but some of the thoughts here, well it's like they aren't even listening to what GM has said.

The plug is about to be pulled from the ST, the Holden wagon was already given the thumbs down for coming to North America, besides the Zeta itself is due to be redesigned soon, but I doubt it will be now so it's future isn't looking so bright, yet many here are pinning all their hopes on Zeta, why?

As for Pontiac getting an Alpha, that won't happen either since only the corp brands of CHEVROLET, BUICK and CADILLAC will get an Alpha. Pontiac isn't a corp brand and little to no money will be spent on it, GM's words, not mine.

But some of these thoughts expressed here make for amusing reading, at least for me.

So a FWD EPII with all those body styles? :smilewide:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Magnum has proven that even an aggressively styled wagon marketed as a hatchback will not be successful in the US. And the Commodore wagon, to make matters worse, looks like a wagon. And the Ute is doomed to failure. US buyers long ago gave the final verdict on the El Camino and Ranchero.

A sample size of one proves nothing. I like the idea of the Magnum, but wouldn't buy one because 1) it's a Dodge. 2) Interior that would make a Pontiac blush. 3) minimal additional utility.

As far as the Ute is concerned, no it won't be the next F-150, but times have very much changed. Gas prices are still big in the minds of people. The Ute has a chance.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the "niche" strategy is GM public relations smoke screen for an eventual phase out of the brand. They can't get rid of Saturn, Saab, Hummer, Pontiac all in the same year. So Pontiac will drop to Solstice and G8 until around 2011-2012 when I suspect the brand is eliminated. Barring some miracle comeback in auto sales volume.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i would keep a g8 (sedan and wagon), the solstice (assumes the sky is gone if they shut down saturn), and seriously a g6 (next aura? / because there are some who don't want a chevy and don't want a buick). if saturn dies than pontiac gets an astra. that is what i would do. i would consider running pontiac at 100k volume then.

it sounds though like GM is saying to holden, no more aussie chassis for you. you will assimilate.

Edited by regfootball
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So GM is going to just give up selling the most popular car in Australia? GM has this luxury?

Let Holden make Zeta derivatives for the next 25 years... like the mileage GM got out of the old B-bodies, and simply import a few to the US. There are plenty of people who would buy B-bodies today (With a LS2 or L76 and a 6L80)... twelve years after the last one fell off the Arlington assembly line.

As someone else mentioned, its as simple as making it LHD, creating a plastic Pontiac nose and crash testing a few of them. This is not a huge expensive task, as Holden will already be paying for the R&D for the Commodore.

If GM can't handle this easy task, it's doomed. I'll look forward to all of GM management hitting the unemployment lines.

For a dead platform, it sure gets rave reviews in the auto magazines. Unlike the rest of the usual crap.

:yes:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually I do think there will be a smaller Pontiac, but hope for the best. I see a future Pontiac with a G6 and G8 along with the Solstice. That might be it. That is okay so long as the Solstice/G6 have unique styling. I don't mind platform sharing but they need different styling inside and out and sporty ride/handling. People like me are around that prefer a Pontiac and don't want a BUICK (I know the age is coming down still for old farts) or a Chevrolet. I own a Chevy but it is nice to have something more sporty and less common. There is market for Pontiac but let me be honest many of people will be upset if Pontiac goes the way with olds.

I have already sent GM a letter stating my concerns about the future of Pontiac, prolly won't do any good but I let them have it.

Edited by gm4life
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually I do think there will be a smaller Pontiac, but hope for the best. I see a future Pontiac with a G6 and G8 along with the Solstice. That might be it. That is okay so long as the Solstice/G6 have unique styling. I don't mind platform sharing but they need different styling inside and out and sporty ride/handling. People like me are around that prefer a Pontiac and don't want a BUICK (I know the age is coming down still for old farts) or a Chevrolet. I own a Chevy but it is nice to have something more sporty and less common. There is market for Pontiac but let me be honest many of people will be upset if Pontiac goes the way with olds.

I have already sent GM a letter stating my concerns about the future of Pontiac, prolly won't do any good but I let them have it.

Did you send them a check to help pay to make your dreams come true?

There might be a market for Pontiac but GM can hardly afford to market Chevy properly let alone a wide range of models. Lutz pointed this out in how the Malibu was marketed with $200 million dollars and the Aura with near nothing. The Malibu sold at 3 to 1 to the Aura.

GM is to the point they can sell a lot of models half a$$ or they can sell less models more focused tot he public and try to win people back form Toyota and Honda.

The question is how many models can GM afford to market properly?

I will not be happy to see Pontiac go but if they can not build and market car properly due to the lack of money it does no one any good. Lets face it the G8 is a mystery to many in the market place. They don't know how good it is nor how affordable it is. The G8 is the kind of car that should not be sitting on dealer lots prior to the the down turn but they were.

I hope things work out but I know it is business and sometimes they have to do what needs to be done popular or not.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that Pontiac as a niche performance car for the PBG sales channel is a non-starter. The three brands appeal to different age groups, not different horsepower aficionados. GMC well sell to young families and the Buick to more mature managers, and their families. The Pontiac is best aimed at young 20's singles/secretaries. To that end the niche lineup would include the G6 coupe and convertible(no sedan). Add to that a Solstice coupe but no roadster. Crime is likely to increase in society and the safety of the ON Star feature should be emphasized. The Sky as only a roadster can be sold as a Chevy.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did you send them a check to help pay to make your dreams come true?

There might be a market for Pontiac but GM can hardly afford to market Chevy properly let alone a wide range of models. Lutz pointed this out in how the Malibu was marketed with $200 million dollars and the Aura with near nothing. The Malibu sold at 3 to 1 to the Aura.

GM is to the point they can sell a lot of models half a$$ or they can sell less models more focused tot he public and try to win people back form Toyota and Honda.

The question is how many models can GM afford to market properly?

I will not be happy to see Pontiac go but if they can not build and market car properly due to the lack of money it does no one any good. Lets face it the G8 is a mystery to many in the market place. They don't know how good it is nor how affordable it is. The G8 is the kind of car that should not be sitting on dealer lots prior to the the down turn but they were.

I hope things work out but I know it is business and sometimes they have to do what needs to be done popular or not.

I sent them an email. I send them money when I pick the Pontiac product over a Chevrolet.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I sent them an email. I send them money when I pick the Pontiac product over a Chevrolet.

Which ONE?

Something we may have to consider is the one Pontiac I would at least hope is the G8. If not a newer model to replace it.

But also is GM going the cheap way out to keep one Pontiac to not have to pay the dealers at this time. One Pontiac that is very cheap to produce and the only one to show a increase in sales? The one Pontiac that I count even less a Pontiac than a Rebadged Aveo. The Vibe?

The Vibe is a very cheap car for GM to offer since they really do so little to produce it.

I hate to see it but if Pontiac is cut down just for the money the Vibe may be the only one that could live to prevent pay outs and keep the name going till a later time. GM could eaily let someone else do the work of building a Pontiac for them. Rebranding is worse than rebadging.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I sent them an email. I send them money when I pick the Pontiac product over a Chevrolet.

Which ONE?

Something we may have to consider is the one Pontiac I would at least hope is the G8. If not a newer model to replace it.

But also is GM going the cheap way out to keep one Pontiac to not have to pay the dealers at this time. One Pontiac that is very cheap to produce and the only one to show a increase in sales? The one Pontiac that I count even less a Pontiac than a Rebadged Aveo. The Vibe?

The Vibe is a very cheap car for GM to offer since they really do so little to produce it.

I hate to see it but if Pontiac is cut down just for the money the Vibe may be the only one that could live to prevent pay outs and keep the name going till a later time. GM could eaily let someone else do the work of building a Pontiac for them. Rebranding is worse than rebadging.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now



  • Who's Online (See full list)

    There are no registered users currently online

  • Who's Chatting

    There are no users currently in the chat room