GM May End Pontiac or Buick Line

Looks like the budget axe may be falling at GM.

GM Says It May Kill Off One of Its Brands

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Corp., which issued a shock profit warning last week and has been losing market share, may phase out one of its weaker car brands if sales fail to meet projections, company Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said on Wednesday.

GM’s Buick and Pontiac are both “damaged brands” due to lack of investment over the years, and GM is working to correct that with an array of new vehicles coming to market, Lutz told a Morgan Stanley automotive conference in New York.

But if some of its brands fail to meet sales projections, “then we would have to take a look at a phase-out. I hope we don’t have to do that. What we’ve got to do is keep the brands we’ve got.”

Financial analysts have said for years that the world’s largest automaker has too many brands to support, even with the gradual phase-out of the Oldsmobile brand a few years ago, particularly with its weaker U.S. sales.

Sales for both Pontiac and Buick have lagged in recent years. But GM is in the midst of a $3 billion investment in new vehicles for Buick, and Pontiac showrooms and they will have four new vehicles this year, including the Solstice roadster, Torrent SUV and the G6 mid-size coupe. [links mine -ed]

With all due respect to the marketing folks at GM, they are SOOO missing the boat. Those vehicles are boring. I’ll tell you how to save Buick… The same way they saved the brand in the early 1980s. Horsepower.

In 1982 Buick introduced a limited edition Regal Grand National. It put Buick back on the map and saved them for another 2 decades. But unlike Ford who has (over)used (and so abused) the Mustang brand, Buick then walked away from it.

Now throw into the mix that GM is about to introduce the LS7 engine. Without too many numbers and letters, it produces 500hp in a 427ci block. Incredible for a production engine.

A Match made in heaven… Or at least Detroit.

What GM should have done is put LS7 into a 25th Anniversary, limited edition Buick Grand National II. Instead, they put it into the Corvette which, lets review, is going to sell anyway. They could make a limited edition black and silver that would be on the cover of every car magazine. They would be sold before they even started production. With the exception of the Vet and the Camaro, GM has failed to really milk a product line like Ford has with the Mustang.

Let’s accept reality. (sorry Mustang fan but…) For about half of the product life of the Mustang, they have been a lame car. Everyone thinks of them as a muscle car but when they were introduced they were a “sporty” car, not a “sports” car. It was only later the Ford added the muscle.

And can you say Mustang II? Oh Please! What a humiliation for a proud brand. But Ford has milked the Mustang mystic for years. Time for GM to play the game.

OK, for you true car guys (and the occasional gal) I know what you’re thinking… the reintroduction of the GTO was not that big a deal in 2004 right? Well, OK — No it wasn’t… but the car was boring! See the top of this rant.

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Postscript- Now if they let Corvette have the LS7 but then built a Grand National II with an LS7 Turbo… Car freaks would have to wipe up the retro drool.

Talking Points Memogate
Digging in the dirt

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