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Oracle of Delphi

GM prepares to announce Pontiac closure

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Don't think this has been posted, if it has, my apologies ...

Jamie LaReau

Automotive News

April 24, 2009 - 1:45 pm ET

UPDATED: 4/24/09 4:10 p.m. ET

General Motors is preparing to announce early next week that the Pontiac brand will be eliminated, said a source familiar with the company's plans.

The announcement will be made as part of an updated viability report to the U.S. auto task force, the source said. A second source indicated earlier this week that GM, surviving with $15.4 billion in U.S. bailout funds, was considering phasing out Pontiac instead of sticking with a plan to have it continue as a niche brand.

In its proposal to the U.S. Treasury on Feb. 17, GM said Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC would be its four core U.S. brands. On March 31, the task force told GM that its restructuring plan wasn't aggressive enough and denied a request for $16.6 billion in additional aid.

Pontiac spokesman Jim Hopson declined to comment on Pontiac's future.

"I can't speculate what next week is going to hold," he said. "When we were asked to go back and look at the viability plan, everything went back on the table. We're reviewing everything. Nothing is sacred. We're still under the original viability plan until told otherwise."

The U.S. today granted $2 billion to keep GM operating while it prepares for a new, June 1 restructuring deadline. GM has been staying afloat with $13.4 billion in U.S. loans granted in December by President George W. Bush.

Bloomberg News said GM is expected to tell the government that it will stick with plans to keep GMC, Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac.

Saab, Hummer and Saturn are for sale.

Muscle-car icon

Pontiac, which launched the 1960s U.S. muscle-car era with the GTO, sold 267,348 vehicles in the United States last year, less than a third of its 1978 peak of 896,980. This year's volume dropped 43.5 percent through March as industrywide demand fell 38.4 percent.

"Pontiac is one of my favorites -- I especially like the G8," said John Pitre, general manager of Motor City Auto Center in Bakersfield, Calif., which sells Buick-Pontiac-GMC and Saturn. "I would be sad to see it phased out. However, if some of those products became part of the Buick brand, I could understand GM's logic."

Chris Haydocy, who owns a Buick-Pontiac-GMC store in Columbus, Ohio, said Pontiac isn't essential as long as the revamped sales channel provides most of what customers are looking for.

Said Haydocy: "I think you need 10 or 12 models to do that."

Killing Pontiac would make sense, said George Peterson, president of marketing and product consulting firm AutoPacific Inc.

"It's sort of a shadow of itself," he said. "All of the Pontiacs, except for the G8, are copies of Chevrolets or GMCs, so there really isn't any reason to keep Pontiac around.''

GM introduced Pontiac in 1926. GM decided to kill Oldsmobile in 2000, three years after its 100th anniversary.

Link: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti...paign_id=alerts

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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If GM kills Pontiac but still intends to import an Australian built rebadged Commodore sedan, it will probably go to Chevrolet. Voila! Instant Impala replacement. If the current W-body Impala is going to be the last W-body product once the LWB Eps II 2010 LaCrosse launches, then I could definitely see this happening. There really isn't any need to keep the outdated W-body Impala in production when a RWD flagship is available that wouldn't overlap or compete with the Malibu. I really don't see Buick doing affordable RWD performance.

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Bad decision to put the Chevrolet Impala badge (a model GM wants to sell in high volume) on an imported car from a factory that is production-constrained. The Pontiac G8 is a different story, it is not intended to sell in the volume GM intends for the Impala nameplate.
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Bad decision to put the Chevrolet Impala badge (a model GM wants to sell in high volume) on an imported car from a factory that is production-constrained. The Pontiac G8 is a different story, it is not intended to sell in the volume GM intends for the Impala nameplate.

Given what the Impala has become in recent years, I agree. Malibu could be the new SWB Ep2 sedan (NG Epica) and Impala will be LWB Ep2 like the new LaCrosse.

Assuming offering 3 FWD sedans and one RWD sedan isn't sedan overkill, Chevrolet could dig up some other name from its history for its Commodore. Chevelle, maybe?

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Also, it's better to have demand out strip supply than supply out strip demand. The W-Body Impala is a fleet whore anyway.

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Given what the Impala has become in recent years, I agree. Malibu could be the new SWB Ep2 sedan (NG Epica) and Impala will be LWB Ep2 like the new LaCrosse.

Assuming offering 3 FWD sedans and one RWD sedan isn't sedan overkill, Chevrolet could dig up some other name from its history for its Commodore. Chevelle, maybe?

I agree and disagree with you on this.

I do agree that the next gen Malibu needs to move back to the SWB version of Eps II and could be merged with the global Epica/Tosca sedans. My only condition for this is that GMNA takes the styling lead so that the next gen Malibu appears to be more of a continuation of the great looking current gen Malibu and not a next gen Epica/Tosca.

If GM is indeed going to kill Pontiac, then I would still move a rebadged Commodore to Chevrolet as the new Impala. I would position it as a sort of RWD specialty sports sedan. I would even go as far as using the Impala badge on the front instead of the Chevrolet bowtie to make it something even more special and unique in the Chevrolet lineup. GM can use this car to restore some of the luster to the "Impala" name.

I agree on developing a large FWD LWB Eps II Taurus/Avalon competitor for Chevrolet, but I would christen this car as the Caprice. This car would be launched after the next gen SWB Eps II Malibu is already on the market.

As far as the current W-body Impala, GM can discontinue it when the 2010 LaCrosse is launched (since that leaves GM with just one W-body product) or they can call it "Classic" and produce it for fleet sales.

I know this calls for switching the model names around yet again, but I think it allow for placing the names on more appropriate products.

Edited by cire
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The next Malibu should not move back to SWB. The car is already on the small side for interior volume compared to its competition. It should stay the same. There shouldn't be two FWD cars of similar size in the lineup either...that just creates overlap. Either make the Impala RWD, make the W-body fleet only, or just kill it.

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Moving existing models around to other brands has FAIL written all over it.

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SWB Ep2 = Malibu

LWB Ep2 = Caprice

Alpha sedan = Impala

That could work.. wonder about the current Impala's fleet %, though... as I was writing my 1st reply to the thread I kept wondering if what's keeping the W-body Impala alive are fleet sales...

Edited by ZL-1
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Don't think this has been posted, if it has, my apologies ...

Nope thanks for the news as bad as it is to hear.

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SWB Ep2 = Malibu

LWB Ep2 = Caprice

Alpha sedan = Impala

That could work.. wonder about the current Impala's fleet %, though... as I was writing my 1st reply to the thread I kept wondering if what's keeping the W-body Impala alive are fleet sales...

Seems like too many sedans. It should just be Malibu and Impala or Caprice. One FWD and one RWD (the flag ship sedan).

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Seems like too many sedans. It should just be Malibu and Impala or Caprice. One FWD and one RWD (the flag ship sedan).

It'd be 5 sedans total: Aveo, Cruze, Malibu, Caprice, and RWD Impala... the 4 FWD sedan thing seems a bit too much, but Toyota does it with the Yaris, Corolla, Camry and Avalon, and ford will do it with the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus... if economically viable, I'd see the RWD Impala as a flagship in price, but smaller than the Caprice and parallel to the bread-and-butter 4 FWD-based sedans. I'd expect sales similar to the G8.

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Well because they all slot into categories: subcompact, compact, midsize, full size.

GM would have either 2 mid size or 2 full size under one brand.

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5 sedans can work depending on size/price differences.

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Doesn't the current LWB Malibu have less interior volume than the last gen SWB Malibu?

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The problem with the last Malibu was the width. It was way too narrow. I dont know the numbers on the current car, but it doesn't feel as narrow but does feel less tall.

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If the G8 capacity goes anywhere, it should go to Buick. It requires ZERO development and fills the same sized hole left behind when Pontiac exits stage left. Demand wouldn't overtax the limited capacity at Holden and they would be able to sell at higher price points. It also allows GM to immediately ditch the G-body Lucerne and DTS with it.

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If the G8 capacity goes anywhere, it should go to Buick. It requires ZERO development and fills the same sized hole left behind when Pontiac exits stage left. Demand wouldn't overtax the limited capacity at Holden and they would be able to sell at higher price points. It also allows GM to immediately ditch the G-body Lucerne and DTS with it.

It would have to go there, Holden can't match Chevy volume with production on a sedan.

Then there is Oshawa...

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The problem with the last Malibu was the width. It was way too narrow. I dont know the numbers on the current car, but it doesn't feel as narrow but does feel less tall.

The current Gen is on the narrow side as well, trust me. When you sit in one and an Impala in the same showroom back to back you definitely appreciate the extra shoulder, hip and knee room even if you're a man of diminutive stature like myself.

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It's true that Malibu is still on the narrow side for teh class, but the Impala is also a size class above teh Malibu...so it should be bigger.

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It'd be 5 sedans total: Aveo, Cruze, Malibu, Caprice, and RWD Impala... the 4 FWD sedan thing seems a bit too much, but Toyota does it with the Yaris, Corolla, Camry and Avalon, and ford will do it with the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus... if economically viable, I'd see the RWD Impala as a flagship in price, but smaller than the Caprice and parallel to the bread-and-butter 4 FWD-based sedans. I'd expect sales similar to the G8.

Oh well...

Apparently everyone wants Chevrolet to offer EVERY DAMN MODEL GM SELLS, so whatever.

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Oh well...

Apparently everyone wants Chevrolet to offer EVERY DAMN MODEL GM SELLS, so whatever.

Well Chevy is the GM world brand ...

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It'd be 5 sedans total: Aveo, Cruze, Malibu, Caprice, and RWD Impala... the 4 FWD sedan thing seems a bit too much, but Toyota does it with the Yaris, Corolla, Camry and Avalon, and ford will do it with the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus... if economically viable, I'd see the RWD Impala as a flagship in price, but smaller than the Caprice and parallel to the bread-and-butter 4 FWD-based sedans. I'd expect sales similar to the G8.

I still say replace the Holden badges on the linked pictures below with Impala badges and you would have an instant low volume RWD specialty sports sedan for Chevrolet. No, the product doesn't have the division's signature horizontally split grille and it shouldn't. Just like the Camaro and Corvette (which don't have the grille treatment either), this Impala would be positioned as a low volume specialty vehicle and wouldn't have the division's mainstream exterior design cues. The next gen SWB Eps II midsize Malibu and LWB Eps II fullsize Caprice would be designed and positioned to target the mainstream market (along with the Aveo and Cruze sedans). The Commodore based Impala would be grouped with the brand's low volume specialty products.

Picture Link (Holden VE Commodore Berlina): Visit My Website

Picture Link (Holden VE Commodore Berlina): Visit My Website

Source: NetCarShow

The Holden Statesman/Caprice could then replace the Lucerne as Buick's flagship sedan model in the U.S. Unlike in China, I wouldn't revive the "Park Avenue" name for this vehicle in the U.S. I would call it either "LeSabre" or "Electra" in the U.S. "Park Avenue" just sounds too old school to me.

Basically, the 2 Zeta based Holden sedans would fill 2 different slots and purposes for GM in the U.S. The Commodore would be used to give Chevrolet a low volume RWD sports sedan. The Statesman would be used to give Buick a proper modern flagship sedan to slot above the LWB Eps II 2010 LaCrosse.

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