The fate of GM’s dead brands walking generates rumor and hearsay like few other topics. GM is unraveling into a buyers market, and secret talks are typically denied within hours of their leaking. Ironically, one detail that rumors seem to have in common is the proliferation of Opels in the United States. Thus far Saturn has been the defacto donor brand for American Opels, but Motor Trend now claims it “makes sense” for Buick to cover Opel with brand familiarity.
The point of the exercise? Rescue the DOA PBG (Pontiac-Buick-GMC) sales channel. Which means there’s a “huge caveat:” only with a bailout can GM turn PBG into a “middle-priced channel consisting of Opel-based Buicks, a small fleet of sporty and affordable Pontiacs, and more crossovers for GMC.” You know, instead of whatever it is right now. What they mean though, is that if you like the looks of that Opel Insignia, and you want to buy a slightly cornier Buick version someday you should get on the horn with your elected representatives now.
But would Buick really make a better Opel-peddler than Saturn? After all, even MT admits that “Saturn’s 400 dealers are considered the best franchises in the corporation.” Or is this a bailout for every purse and purpose, with Opel’s Euro confections as bait? Either way, by the time GM figures out what label to sell its European offerings under, Ford’s Euro-invasion will have already begun. Oh yeah, and the bailout isn’t a sure thing anymore either.