By on May 20, 2009

I’ve just purchased a Pontiac G8 GT. Sport red metallic with every option. I paid too much (even though it was a below-invoice deal). The car just begged me to buy it. Yep, car guys make the dumbest deals when it comes to their own personal transportation. And I love it. I will drive the wheels off this car, and enjoy every torque-rich moment. But enough about me. Now about Pontiac, and GM. With fewer than eleven days to go before what was once the largest corporation in the world files for bankruptcy, with the Pontiac brand disappearing (what exactly is a “niche” brand anyways?), the G8 GT is a reminder of what could have and should have been. But is it also an indication of what will be? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?

As good as it is, the Pontiac G8 GT highlights GM’s greatest failing: the formerly world’s largest automaker’s unshakable tendency to take the path of least resistance. Remember: the G8 is an Australian import. Originally, this state of affairs was supposed to be a “temporary” fix: a quick way for Pontiac to sell a suitable product in the American marketplace. As with the Belgian Saturn Astra, the G8 was sold internally (and to the UAW) as a “place holder.” After the models succeeded, production would switch to American soil.

Did GM really think that would happen? Who knows? If laziness was GM’s worst sin, self-delusion was its second (followed closely by ADD). Importing cars for a mainstream brand from high cost countries is an inherently risky proposition. (One of the main reasons Toyondaissan builds here.) And sure enough, surprise! GM got nailed on the exchange rate before either car crossed either ocean. More importantly, instead of developing an American Pontiac G8, GM hit [what looked like] the easy button. In so doing, they sowed the seeds of their own destruction. Again.

It’s important to remember that the American automaker has always a deep bench of world-class design and engineering talent. GM also enjoyed complete access to the marketplace. And it had billions to spend on advertising. GM could have fostered strong brands with domestically built, highly competitive profits. But that would have taken genuine commitment from a management team committed to product excellence, rather than the Peter Principle.

How many Pontiac G8′s died because GM’s CEOs and “car czars” sat back and allowed the company’s divisions to expend their energy fighting each other; executives jockeying to generate the quickest, easiest and largest profits, rather than facing their real enemies outside the gates?

GM’s endless internecine warfare led to less competitive products. A growing number of divisions mortgaged their future by offering copy-cat (i.e., badge engineered) vehicles across multiple brands, using aging platforms and retro engines. Why? Why not? And so GM’s products fell behind their Japanese competitors’ reliability, build quality and value for the money.

At some point, GM simply forgot that it was in the car business. It forgot the fact that people buy cars from strong brands that meet or exceed the brand’s underlying promise. How cynical and lazy does a car company have to be to change its brand promise—”Pontiac is car”—rather than build vehicles that deliver the original premise?

In truth, there was nothing wrong with Pontiac’s mantra “We Build Excitement.” There was everything wrong with Pontiac’s products, and, by extension, the corporate culture that provided them. The Pontiac G8 GT is a “true” Pontiac: a poor man’s BMW. Aztek? Montana? Wave? It’s far too late to convince consumers to come back. 

The Pontiac G8 GT I drove home last night gets it right. The Aussie sedan lacks a luxury interior and some “surprise and delight” features (e.g., rain-sense wipers, HID headlamps, and power reclining seats). But it delivers excitement at a price the average working stiff can afford (more so every day). It is a Pontiac. Perhaps even “the” Pontiac; a car that completely surpasses the performance and handling of the parts-bin specials from which the brand was born. The G8 does exactly what a Pontiac’s supposed to do.

That’s the lesson for the New GM. Demote the bean counters to their rightful position as guardians of profit, not destroyers of initiative. Elevate the engineers and designers. Build a limited range of vehicles that fulfill their brand’s promise (although God knows what a Buick is supposed to be). Cut all the models that fail to fit the remit.

If you want to know if the post-C11 GM will make it, that’s where you need to look: at the vehicles GM doesn’t build. In that sense, the Pontiac G8 GT is both a clarion call and a warning. In today’s bloated, highly competitive automotive industry, if GM does the easy thing instead of the right thing, nothing can save them. Nothing.

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75 Comments on “Editorial: General Motors Death Watch 252: The Truth About the Pontiac G8 GT...”


  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    if GM does the easy thing instead of the right thing, nothing can save them. Nothing.

    oh, come on it looked great on this quarters balance sheet didn’t it.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    How many Pontiac G8’s died because GM’s CEOs and “car czars” sat back and allowed the company’s divisions to expend their energy fighting each other?

    I recall a couple of rumors from years back:

    1) a Saab CUV based on the Sigma-based Cadillac SRX, spiked because it made the latter product look like crap. Nowadays, GM CEO Henderson wants to keep the new Saab 9-5, because it’s supposed to be hot sh*t.

    2) a Fiero turbo with about 300hp canned due to its ability to the spank the C4 Corvette.

    Any others?

  • avatar

    Ken,

    You are spot on about the G8 GT and by proxy, the older GTO (despite its bland styling) as the last true Pontiacs. They truly are great cars that will unfortunately be forgotten as time goes on. And to think they aren’t much more expensive than an Impala SS…. such a shame, such a waste.

    Congrats on the purchase, its one I would have made as well.

  • avatar
    commando1

    I heard this adage about GM over thirty years ago and it still holds true about any new model they introduce:

    Introduction year: 75% right.
    Year two: 85% right
    Year three: 95% right.
    Year four: Discontinued.

  • avatar
    Bigsby

    It is no accident that the only GM cars worth having today are the CTS and the G8. For anyone with even a bit of interest in the car as a driving machine rather than a utility Rear Wheel Drive is basic.

    The worst mistake GM ever made was to go entirely front wheel drive for all their non truck platforms. It may have saved money in terms of assembly process and was a help with CAFE but it instantly took away any sort of drive cred away especially with regard to performance and luxury.

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    How many Pontiac G8’s died because GM’s CEOs and “car czars” sat back and allowed the company’s divisions to expend their energy fighting each other? Any Others?

    This goes waaaaay back:

    1964 Pontiac Banshee

    http://www.autoblog.com/2007/11/23/ebay-find-of-the-day-1964-pontiac-banshee-prototype-xp-833-coup/

    “The Banshee project was cancelled due to its encroachment on Corvette territory.”

    My biggest recent disappointment has been the Solstice/Sky twins. I believe that this car was throttled to keep it from competing with the Corvette and the upcoming Camaro.

    What might have been:

    http://www.mallettcars.com/solstice-conversion.htm

    I find it hard to believe that the world’s largest car company couldn’t find a decent engine/ transmission combination to put in that car. The horrible interior and the bad top could be forgiven in a car rushed into production…. but how about at least some decent gear ratios?

  • avatar
    Samuel L. Bronkowitz

    At some point, GM simply forgot that it was in the car business.

    Well said. Once they got out of the business of making good cars at a profit and into the business of “making money” their fate was sealed.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    Man, I saw a G8 on the road this morning and it looked fantastic. I’ve seen maybe 5 of these total since it came out– sad really.

    It’s ironic, but not surprising that this whole GM mess comes at a time when their lineup of cars is actually quite good and appealing.

    Saturn’s entire lineup is pretty good right now (by Saturn standards). The Lambda triplets, the CTS, the G8, Solstice, Malibu. The GM people should be talking about these cars– not the Volt.

  • avatar

    It seems that when a company reaches a certain size it starts behaving in destructive and/or self-destructive ways, at least to some degree.
    The management becames too detached, too arrogant; plus the internal politics playing. GM is a prime example. VW, Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz, and others also fit that model. That’s too bad, especially becase at the end it’s the regular Joe and Jane that get affected by it, while the big bosses walk away with lots of money. Shouldn’t there be some real-world accountability for the management? Like, you screw up a company due to your incompetence, arrogance and politics-playing, you lose most of your wealth and go find a real job? I think the management would be much more careful then.
    Hopefully Toyota, Honda, and other automakers won’t end up like GM or VW.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Spot on Mr. Elias, thank you!

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    I wouldn’t worry about Toyota and Honda. Toyota is proactive in dealing with poor results. They’ll adapt quickly. Honda will never let itself get too big. They’ll always put out a relatively small lineup accross its two brands, all above average cars that will sell like hotcakes. You won’t see Honda roll out redundant models just to fill every niche in the market.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    Honda will never let itself get too big.

    Apparently, but is that by design or because of it?

  • avatar
    cliveh

    Does the G8 overlap with Camaro or CTS buyers? Wait, doesn’t “Pontiac excitement” overlap with Chevy SS trimmed product lines? What is a Chevy with SS trim/suspension/engine anyway–some kind of faux Pontiac?

    A Pontiac G8 seems to me a faux Caddy CTS without the luxo-trim bits. Why on earth would GM develop a separate, expensive platform for Cadillac CTS when the Holden platform was already there? Are Cadillacs that profitable?

    As for Buick…a faux Caddy, with the luxo-bits, but without the suspension and performance of a “real” Caddilac? Wait, the new Buick LaCrosse has all that, I think. So isn’t Buick dangerously encroaching on CTS turf?

    Are all these overlapping products that profitable that GM can afford to build so many different platforms for such similar product? Oops, maybe that’s one of the reasons GM is about to go down the crapper…

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    Honda doesn’t seem interested in chasing the titles of “world’s biggests automaker” “worldwide sales leader” like Toyota. They keep their lineups somewhat small (compared with Toyota and GM) and concentrate on those vehicles. Toyota has a Rav4, Venza, Highlander, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Sequioa, and Land Cruiser (and RX, GX and LX for lexus) while Honda has the Element, CRV and Pilot (and RDX and MDX). And it’s a similar story for the sedans. Of course Toyota is going to outsell them overall with that bloated lineup, but I don’t think Honda cares about that one bit.

  • avatar
    cbroeker

    I just put a 1000 bucks down on a Camaro SS. First time I’ve bought (or tried to buy) an American car in 30 years. I’m thinking there’s a 50/50 chance that I’ll actually get the car. There’s probably a 20% chance I’ll never see my $1000. I just couldn’t resist this new Camaro.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ KE

    I recall plenty of (denied) media at the time, that said GM NA was actively working against Holden Design in their G8/Commodore efforts. GM NA felt they should have “got the job”.

    The problem is (was?) that GM/Lutz was ring leader for both the Downunder design talent and the whiny NA ivory tower.

    It was an effort to make NA wake up to what was achievable. All it did was make everyone more confused.

  • avatar
    LastResort

    As far as I’m concerned, you could take all of GM’s current great cars, across all brands, and make one competitive company. But it would be light on appliances….

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Ken Elias:

    I love it. I will drive the wheels off this car…

    Be careful what you wish for. Yeah, yeah, I know: “GM’s quality has improved!” To THAT I call bullshit. But maybe I’m just still sore over “The Corvette Incident”…

    And maybe yours will be fine. Do you know which day of the week it was assembled, and whether or not it was the day before or after a weekend or holiday?

    In any event, good luck with the car. Hope you enjoy those every minutes!

  • avatar
    vvk

    Why do we talk about G8 with some kind of American pride? Why is it considered the car that “Pontiac got right”? It is NOT an American car. It is not remotely a product of American engineering. Buick Century — yes. Pontiac G8 — hell no. It is an import car as much as BMW and Mercedes.

    Australians probably laugh when they read these posts.

  • avatar
    rnc

    “Hopefully Toyota, Honda, and other automakers won’t end up like GM or VW.”

    I would imagine that every automaker (including Toyota which has 1mm in excess capacity at these sales levels) wishes they could be VW right now.

  • avatar
    Ken Elias

    ZoomZoom – I’ve had two GM products before my new G8…one was a Pontiac Grand Prix GTP (2004) and then a 2007 Saab 9-3. The Grand Prix had ZERO problems in 45,000 miles of ownership…the Saab had one ECU replaced within a few weeks of ownership under warranty but nothing after that for 27k miles. Granted, neither car went past 50k miles so very long term reliability is unknown to me.

    My prior Lincoln, Nissan, and Honda experiences were worse…

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I have seen this car around. I can’t I am in love with the way it looks, tho I understand that it drives well.

    There seems to be a love affair with this car that I do not understand. Yes it drives well, but it gets truely lousy milage. It is very large. I fear once the dew is off the rose, it will be just another big annoying gas guzzler.

    I thought that one of the problems with GM is they made alot of big gas guzzlers, while ignoring the small car market. Now I am hearing that their problem was they didn’t make enough big gas guzzlers. I dont understand.

    Of course, like most folks, I have dismissed POntaic’s ability to build anything I actually wanted to buy, much like the rest of GM’s stable. I was reinforced by the Sky/Solstice twins, truely magnificent styling efforts, with marginal engines, questionable handling and the real killer, absolutely no luggags space.

    So I dont get it. Are we geting nostalgic already? Are we buying the cars we didn’t want last year cause they will cease to exist?

    Please help me.

  • avatar
    Dragophire

    What the hell is the Peter Principle exactly? Never heard of it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So Ken, what aftermarket exhaust are you going to put on the G8?

  • avatar
    Ken Elias

    JerseyDevil – The G8 GT is EPA rated at 15/24 with users on non-modified cars averaging closer to 20 mpg combined. The V8 has GM’s “Active Fuel Management” which shuts off four cylinders at low power demand cruising (like on the freeway).

    I’ll grant you that this is no Honda Civic in terms of fuel consumption but it’s heck of a lot more fun to drive. It also doesn’t require premium fuel (like some other lux brand sport sedans) and runs fine on regular.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Dragophire: The answer to that goes way back to GM Deathwatch 166. It was a dark and stormy night…

  • avatar
    peterb

    The Peter Principle can be summarized as “Everyone is promoted to their level of incompetence.”

  • avatar
    Tommy Jefferson

    In 2012 that Pontiac G8 will look great leaking oil into the trailer park’s gravel driveway as the rust under its peeling paint gently dribbles into holes left behind by body trim that fell off two years earlier.

    Perhaps the new owner will be able to transfer to the G8 the aftermarket hood scoop off his ’02 Trans Am which sits on blocks in his yard serving as a combination dog house / work table.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Come on, the Peter Principle is even better than that! “In a hierarchical organization, every employee will be promoted to their level of incompetence.” Now it gets even better. Why not fire the incompetents? Because if you hire the incompetents, firing them is admitting that you are wrong. God forbid a manager ever be shown to be wrong. So what do you do instead of firing them? You give them an assistant that can actually do the job. What’s wrong with that? Eventually your hierarchy becomes an “inverted” pyramid and collapses under it’s own weight. You can’t have above a certain ratio of Presidents, Vice Presidents, butt-kissers, and yes men to your actual customers and employees.

    Dr. Peter came up with this in the 70s. I’m an educator and I see signs of this disease in educational administration.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    God forbid a manager ever be shown to be wrong. So what do you do instead of firing them? You give them an assistant that can actually do the job.

    Right, like the assistants working for bankruptcy judges.

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    Good luck with the G8. I hope the guys in Australia put together a better Pontiac than the guys in North America did. I had GM vehicles for 20 years. My final GM car, a late model Grand Prix, fell apart after 87K miles. Two water pumps, one steering pump, door panels always popping off, trunk trim rubber falling off, leaking headlights, window lift buttons failing. In a final act of Detroit revenge, the plastic intake manifold cracked costing $1,100 for a new one, not including labor. I had to nearly donate the car on trade in.

    Again, best of luck with the G8.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Blobinski, great segue to my question: After Pontiac completely disappears, along with the dealers and their service departments, who will fix/maintain the G8? How many of the parts are Holden-only (i.e., not from the US parts bin)? I’m getting closer to ditching my aging Saab 9000 and I love the G8, but I worry about it as a long term proposition.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    Congrats on the car. My brother loves his.

    It seems anecdotes are now proof of good/poor quality so allow me to join in.

    I have owned/leased several GM cars over the years with satisfaction. There were a few minor things like a scratched IP glass or a coolant hose not completely attached (assembly error that really pissed me off) that were repaired at no cost to me. Generally, I have found my GM cars to be reliable and competent, although with consistently questionable interior plastics. It’s true, I have only driven a few of them past 100,000 miles, but even then they were still running well.

    You’ll hear no GM horror stories from me!! Now if you want to talk about that Audi 5000……

  • avatar
    86er

    Congratulations Ken, I am agonizing over considering a GT for my next sedan purchase but the hot wheels look is not doing it for me.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Irvine

    “Australians probably laugh when they read these posts.”

    I am an Aussie. I don’t laugh but am intrigued. There’s a little pride in the 1st car the U.S. has impoerted from Oz since the Mitsubishi Diamante. In Oz the Pontiac G8 is a Holden Commodore but the version you see is the expensive, performance model. The Commodore is an ‘everyman’ car in Oz and with Ford Falcon makes up nearly 100% of the taxi fleet.

    It will probably last well for you because unlike the average car age here which seems to me to be about 2 years, the Aussie car fleet is probably over 10 years old on average and the roads are not so good. These jiggers, if nothing else, are made to last. Good luck with it.

    It’s a shame that now the exchange rate has plunged back to where it was (70c)that there is no opportunity to see more versions of the Commodore including the ute and the 4WD wagon.

  • avatar
    Ken Elias

    There were three other cars I considered. First was a BMW 328 Coupe w/manual. Very few available with a stick in the West. I also learned that BMWs are costly once they get loaded with options such as Premium and Sport packages. While the lease program is pretty good right now, I just couldn’t take an automatic in a car that drives nice but lacks some power. Also, there was only a handful of 335 Coupes w/ sticks but the price goes into the stratosphere with a more costly lease program.

    The second car was the Infiniti G37 Journey w/ Premium package. This would have been the cheapest car to lease. The car is well built with an excellent audio system but the driving dynamics weren’t doing it for me. The engine needs to be revved to at least 3,000 RPM to get any power out of it. And, it’s kind of Japanese generic looking to me.

    The third car considered was the MBZ C350 Sport. Small car, no manual, and the interior isn’t that great. And it just isn’t a great driver. No leather either. Worse, while there’s a good lease program going on now (as long as you get the extra $2k from the dealer and negotiate a near invoice deal), MBZ finance wants a $1,025 acquisition fee on the lease! Screw that.

    The G8 GT blows all these cars away in power and driving dynamics. It does have a bit of “hot wheels” look but no worse than a BMW M5 or M3. With zero percent financing for 60 months from GMAC – and no money out of pocket to acquire – I couldn’t resist. Rumor has it that the zero percent money will be good for 72 months starting this weekend.

    The most interesting thing about my car search is that there are so few “interesting” cars available for sale. Below any affordable monthly cost – less than say $600/mo – the choices are limited. Most cars today, frankly, are boring. And it’s only going to get worse with new fuel economy mandates.

  • avatar
    John R

    Great read, Ken. And congrats on the whip.

    I almost wish I waited to until this year to shop around. If only I knew the sh%t was going to hit the fan last fall I might, might, have considered a G8 GT. Unfortunately, some 20 something years of domestic example being an abject failures (in my experience) has been cold shower while dreaming about a G8.

    Now, getting to my point, I think there is a cultural component that Tommy Jefferson hit on:

    In 2012 that Pontiac G8 will look great leaking oil into the trailer park’s gravel driveway as the rust under its peeling paint gently dribbles into holes left behind by body trim that fell off two years earlier.

    This little bit is one of the many reasons some people have stayed away from GM (or ran away screaming from Pontiac). I knew guys in high school that drove Camaros and Mustangs, great guys. Nice guys, but being as delicate as I can, we simply ran in different circles. Seeing orange Dodges with the stars & bars on the roof only helped to learn to love the NSX and 300ZXTT.

    Yeah, there is (was?) SAAB and now Caddy, but people aren’t stupid or ill-informed. Most know that the company that made the same Camaro that belong to that kid that did donuts in your high school parking lot while rocking out to Skynard is the same one that makes that 9-3 you thought was attractive.

    Should a person hold that against GM? Hell no. Do people do anyway? Yes. Is it the only reason I and most will not buy a GM or Chrysis? No, I can talk about the reasons why at length, the above is only icing on the cake.

    I’m just saying guilt by association is tough.

  • avatar
    Ken Elias

    John R – I thought the same thing. I always thought the crowd that oohed and aahed over muscle cars in the 1970s wasn’t my “cup of tea.”

    There is definitely stigma associated with the Pontiac brand – and I’m not delicate – it’s connected to redneck white trash. And in my ‘hood – where almost everyone drives a Bimmer, MBZ, or some lux Jap brand – they’ll probably think the same thing like “egads – you bought a Pontiac?”

    All I’ll say…just drive the car.

  • avatar
    John R

    @Ken

    Did you give a Genesis Coupe a whirl?

  • avatar
    threeer

    regarding the crack about the G8 sitting in somebody’s trailer park yard dripping oil…there are currently two G8s in the parking lot here at my office. Both owned by senior director-level people (both college educated professionals that could have easily afforded any other make of car). While no huge fan of most of GMs product, the G8 is one of the few that actually appeals to me. And for some (sad) reason, I am hopelessly attracted to the Solstice…Pontiac could have had a future (of course, that would be with the assumption that those in charge of GM had a brain between all of them), but that ship has already sailed. I guess my father-in-law will simply keep his 2002 Firehawk parked safely in his garage…

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Good luck with the G8. I look forward to hearing your long-term experience with it (no sarcasm here). I think a Holden will hold itself much better on the long term than, say, the fourth generation LS1 Burt Reynolds Edition Trans Am.

    I’ve owned non-US GM cars before, in South America, and they were, uhm, ok. For the most part. Rust was always an issue after year 4, camshaft wear and suspension anchor points on the unibody cracking were major sore points.

    I had, however, one pre-historic GM product in Brazil that endured years of INTENSE use w/o glitch, a rudimentary Chevrolet SUV thing called a Veraneio equipped with the inline six of the U.S. Chevy II/Nova origin, all 250ci running on gallons and more gallons of pure ethanol per mile. Built like a Soviet tank, drove, drank, handled and resold like one too. But it was bullet-proof and scared the hell out of everyone driving slow on the left lane. And oncoming traffic too.

    If I had trow-away money, and had a practical economical car that was a daily driver, and had extra space in the garage, and had no wife equipped with red-neck radar, and if Pontiac made some of these without the hood scoops, in a dark grey tone, and if I could convince myself not to buy a black 328i six speed or used 535i instead, I’d buy one too.

  • avatar
    twotone

    I love the G8′s all aluminum, twin overhead cam, four valve, direct injection engine. Oh sorry, wrong car.

    Twotone

  • avatar

    This little bit is one of the many reasons some people have stayed away from GM (or ran away screaming from Pontiac). I knew guys in high school that drove Camaros and Mustangs, great guys. Nice guys, but being as delicate as I can, we simply ran in different circles. Seeing orange Dodges with the stars & bars on the roof only helped to learn to love the NSX and 300ZXTT.

    There is definitely stigma associated with the Pontiac brand – and I’m not delicate – it’s connected to redneck white trash. And in my ‘hood – where almost everyone drives a Bimmer, MBZ, or some lux Jap brand – they’ll probably think the same thing like “egads – you bought a Pontiac?”

    Thanks for spreading the love, rich and middle-class people.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    “That’s the lesson for the New GM. Demote the bean counters to their rightful position as guardians of profit, not destroyers of initiative. Elevate the engineers and designers. Build a limited range of vehicles that fulfill their brand’s promise (although God knows what a Buick is supposed to be). Cut all the models that fail to fit the remit.”

    I think this paragraph is just tremendous. Of all the reams of copy that have been written about this, none have said it more cogently. I’d add one more: “Cut any vehicle that’s identical to another one you’re selling.” Sadly, they’ve already decided to continue flunking this one.

  • avatar
    JoeEgo

    If I had trow-away money, and had a practical economical car that was a daily driver, and had extra space in the garage, and had no wife equipped with red-neck radar, and if Pontiac made some of these without the hood scoops, in a dark grey tone, and if I could convince myself not to buy a black 328i six speed or used 535i instead, I’d buy one too.

    If, if, and if. We’d all have BMW’s or Porsche’s in the garage and we’d all commute in a Prius. So pointless, I really shouldn’t bring attention it it…

    A 328i or used 535i are nice choices, but $5k bodywork on the G8 gets you the sedate Holden hood & fascia. The extra money is comparable to the up front BMW cost or at least made up in premium gas and maintenance costs.

    Simpler, and more honest, just to admit you dislike the hood scoops and you or your wife have problems with the brand image.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Elias:

    You see, it’s selfish pigs like you, who think that 20mpg is adequate, That took away MY rights to replace my 35mpg family station wagon.

    Pigs like you who never outgrew the pathetic joy of doing donuts in the high school parking lot in a Trans Am. Those are the people that *need* a 300hp family sedan.

    Thank God we now have a sensible president that will take away your so-called “right” to consume too much fuel, without regard for the world’s oil supply, not to mention the environment.

    Dear Mr. Obama: Please let GM and Chrysler die so that hooligans like Elias will drive sensible, decent cars.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    This is the same article that’s appeared on this site over a hundred times, except with less factual basis.

    > After the models succeeded, production would switch to American soil. Did GM really think that would happen? Who knows?

    Yes, who knows? Why bother to verify when we can speculate? This was a perfectly reasonable strategy. The alternative was to invest billions of dollars in new production lines for a niche vehicle with uncertain profit potential.

    > And sure enough, surprise! GM got nailed on the exchange rate before either car crossed either ocean.

    Hardly. GM sold 15K G8s in 2008. Let’s assume that as of 1/07, when the exchange rate was 1.3 USD per 1 AUD, the as-delivered production cost of a G8 was $22K. The exchange rate bottomed at 1.05 USD per 1 AUD by the middle of 2008. That equates to about a 20% rise in production costs, or $4.4K per car. Multiply by the number of vehicles sold to arrive at $66M, the total loss from the exchange rate shift if GM had bought every G8 at the worst possible exchange rate, which of course they didn’t. The actual loss is probably less than $30M. This is chicken feed relative to the (even more) dire financial position they’d be in if they’d built a U.S. G8 plant.

    > How many Pontiac G8’s died because GM’s CEOs and “car czars” sat back and allowed the company’s divisions to expend their energy fighting each other;

    Yes, how many? Concrete examples, please.

    > instead of developing an American Pontiac G8, GM hit [what looked like] the easy button. In so doing, they sowed the seeds of their own destruction.

    You spend half the article lamenting the “easy” solution of importing an Australian vehicle and the other half extolling the virtues of your G8. You can’t have it both ways. How would an “American” G8 be any different from the existing model? What does that even mean? Are you implying GM would be better off if they’d duplicated with American engineers Holden’s billion-dollar investment in developing the Zeta platform? Or that Americans would have preferred a sport sedan engineered to drive like a marshmallow? What?

  • avatar
    Areitu

    I like it.

    Congrats on the new ride!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Hey eggsalad,

    Not sure if that was sarcastic or not, but if it’s not, please answer the question below:

    Are you a vegetarian?

  • avatar
    bill h.

    I would love to drive one of these on their “home” turf.

    During a trip to Oz in the early 90s, I got my first acquaintance with Holdens and the Aussie Fords. Yes, the road system was less developed than in the US, and it was comical how my fellow Yanks would turn on the windshield wipers in their RHD rentals every time they wanted to signal a turn. But then, taking a road out in rural Victoria on a cloudless night, far away enough from Melbourne to see the stars at night (the Southern Cross!) was magical.

    I hope that, being so far away, Holden isn’t as affected by the turmoil of GM bankruptcy that is happening as we speak. Keeping that distinctive Oz flavor in the cars would be nice (as long as one can forget that Mercury Capri roadster….)

  • avatar
    Lee

    Put a Chevy badge on it and call it done.

  • avatar
    davey49

    +1 for Lee’s Chevy idea
    regarding the purchase of said G8- I think people who try to get the super bargain price on a car have some issues. Plus I think you end up getting poor service. Could be actual fact, (dealer that is willing to let cars go at super bargain prices can’t afford to hire good mechanics or helpful service people.) or karmic retribution.

  • avatar
    JEM

    Having had occasion to observe and drive Antipodean Ford and GM product in its native habitat, I’ve long thought that the Aussie market product of the past couple decades were really alternative-universe US cars, a prime case of evolution observed in the wild – the same 1960s ancestry, but evolved without CAFE and without genuflection to snow-belt product managers. And as such, untainted by the poison that is front-wheel drive, adapted to rough outback conditions and tailored for a customer base that prizes room and durability, they were a much better product than any of the generations of junk their parent companies foisted upon American customers. Even the most basic six-cylinder stick-axle Falcon rentacar of a decade ago had that knows-where-the-road-goes feel and thousand-mile seats of good German hardware, and if the material quality wasn’t Audi neither was the price.

    Then GM went and wasted the jewel Impala nameplate on a front-drive fleet-disaster.

    Oh, that fleet thing sells, I guess it’s a matter of the biggest barge for the least money, but would it have sold any worse under a different name? I doubt it.

    One of GM’s myriad problems is that at least in the US there’s really two different groups of Chevrolet customer. There’s the ones for whom it’s just a cheap car, and then there’s the ones for whom there’s history behind the brand. A Camaro or a ‘Vette or even an upmarket truck is a tougher sell when the showroom’s full of Aveos.

  • avatar
    George B

    Guess I don’t understand car marketing. Wouldn’t the easiest way to sell the Holden Commodore in the US be to sell it as a Holden Commodore at BPG or Chevrolet dealerships? No need spend any money on brand engineering for a tainted brand. For me, adding the fake hood scoops and ground effects and putting it under the brand of the screamin’ chicken cheapens an otherwise good car.

  • avatar
    Lee

    George B :

    No need to spend any money at all apart from giving it the marketing it needs.

    The Commodore is already sold as a Chevy in middle eastern markets. You would spend more trying to create the Holden brand in the US.

    Same with the Falcon. It’s a recognized name in the US. Sell it as a Falcon and create an instant Commodore fighter, something Ford US doesn’t have.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Just dump the pontiac plastic at Elizabeth, refit with Chevrolet Lumina/Lumina SS badges and divert a boat from the Middle East/South Africa trade route to North America. The average Chevrolet buyer will go Wow! a new car! The pontiac buyer will lament and dissappear, (diety/supreme being be damned I’ll buy a Chevrolet). Everybody is happy, GMH keeps going, Chevy dealers have a product, GM-Leyland spends no extra money , in fact probably saves on the cost of manufacturing the scoops and grills. Problem solved.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    There is definitely stigma associated with the Pontiac brand – and I’m not delicate – it’s connected to redneck white trash. And in my ‘hood – where almost everyone drives a Bimmer, MBZ, or some lux Jap brand – they’ll probably think the same thing like “egads – you bought a Pontiac?”

    All of GM’s plethora of errors notwithstanding, when the current American domestic automotive manufacturing debacle is understood, this matter of brand stigma will be the consumer’s contribution. When Americans learn again the difference between being statistically elite and elitist, we’ll have a healthier automotive market and a citizenry less inclined to be its own worst economic enemy.

    If I were ready to buy a sedan again, and I wanted or had reason to spend less than the price of a CTS-V, I’d happily buy a Pontiac-badged G8 GT and serenely accept any stigma assigned by others. When that’s a plurality’s view of “stigma” (it’s too much to hope for majority), reconstructed domestic automakers will have a chance. The jackass here isn’t the Pontiac buyer being judged; it’s the knucklehead assigning stigma.

    Phil

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    @jkross22:

    No, I’m not a vegetarian. I’m just a person who thinks it’s irresponsible to use a gallon of fuel to move a mere 20 miles, and similarly irresponsible to “require” 300hp to move 5 people about.

  • avatar
    Ronman

    Couldn’t GM have built the G8/Lumina in the US, on the Holden design. instead of having ozzie GM borrow from the overnment and lenders then to build the left hand drive assembly plant?

    the Lumina SS, CSV CR8, G8 area ll the same great car, even the V6 variants are fun to drive.

    i dont get it how dim do you have to be to figure that these models would work in the US. when it comes to car design and packaging, the Americans and Australians are very similar, only the accent is the difference.

    Gm in some sort of way deserves what it’s going through, but it should be put on the backs of the execs that allowed this to happen, and strip them of the pensions.

  • avatar

    Well Phil brand stigma was invented by GM You let the world know that you had arrived with a Cadillac, You were successful with a Buick, You were doing very well with a Oldsmobile. Yet the same stigma that GM invented that no self respecting doctor or lawyer would be driving a Chevy is killing them now Well it was GM that taught the public that they should shun certain cars when they reached certain levels of prosperity. Too many people in my opinion buy a BMW as an example simply because they want to project an image of prosperity, But that line of thinking was GM’s gift to the public

  • avatar
    geeber

    eggsalad: I’m just a person who thinks it’s irresponsible to use a gallon of fuel to move a mere 20 miles, and similarly irresponsible to “require” 300hp to move 5 people about.

    That’s a decision to be made by the person actually paying for the vehicle. If they have different priorities in a vehicle than you do, it doesn’t make them irresponsible. It’s none of your business.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    brand stigma was invented by GM

    And there’s the rub. The company that helped to invent modern branding as we know it forgot how it’s done.

    Brands cut both ways. A brand is synonymous with reputation. If you earn a bad rep, it takes time and effort (notice the “and”) to lose it.

    General Motors earned its sorry reputation. Like an ex-con going straight, it will take years of hard work and a lot of suspicious looks to win people over. (In GM’s case, it’s not even clear that they are doing the hard work.) If a company doesn’t want to fall from grace, it’s better off if it doesn’t burn people in the first place.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Pch101: General Motors earned its sorry reputation.

    Amen on that one.

    Pch101: Like an ex-con going straight, it will take years of hard work and a lot of suspicious looks to win people over. (In GM’s case, it’s not even clear that they are doing the hard work.) If a company doesn’t want to fall from grace, it’s better off if it doesn’t burn people in the first place.

    Unless there is a wholesale housecleaning of top management, I don’t believe that GM will really change. There is still too much of the “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” mentality governing decisions. Too many people have been marinated for too long in the poisonous GM culture.

    Bankruptcy won’t change anything – if the comments from supporters on this site are any indication, they’ll blame everyone short of the League of Women Voters and the cast of The Facts of Life.

  • avatar
    Axel

    @geeber:

    eggsalad: I’m just a person who thinks it’s irresponsible to use a gallon of fuel to move a mere 20 miles, and similarly irresponsible to “require” 300hp to move 5 people about.

    That’s a decision to be made by the person actually paying for the vehicle. If they have different priorities in a vehicle than you do, it doesn’t make them irresponsible. It’s none of your business.

    The reason it’s irresponsible is because of the effect that behavior has on others. Every gallon burned is more particulate and gaseous pollution effecting my lungs. It’s more CO2 effecting the greenhouse balance of the planet I live on. It’s one less gallon of dino-juice available for me, my children, and my grandchildren to use in the future.

    So yes, it is my business, and everyone else’s. You’re free to do what you want with your money, the fruits of your labor. That’s fine. But you are not free to so what you want with those resources (air, water, non-renewable fuels) that we all must share.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Axel: The reason it’s irresponsible is because of the effect that behavior has on others. Every gallon burned is more particulate and gaseous pollution effecting my lungs.

    Except that, under the Clean Air Act, vehicles within a class are capped at the same level of pollutants, regardless of horsepower or gasoline consumed. A 300 horsepower car cannot emit more pollution than a 100 horsepower one.

    Axel: It’s more CO2 effecting the greenhouse balance of the planet I live on.

    I assume, therefore, that you will be cutting down trees and ceasing to breath as well.

    Axel: It’s one less gallon of dino-juice available for me, my children, and my grandchildren to use in the future.

    Considering that I paid for it, that one gallon is not yours to use, unless you pay me for it. If I choose to use it in another way, too bad.

    Axel: So yes, it is my business, and everyone else’s. You’re free to do what you want with your money, the fruits of your labor. That’s fine.

    The fruits of my labor include making money to buy a vehicle and the petroleum to run it. If you don’t like my choice, you need to first educate yourself on this fact, and then learn to mind your own business.

    Axel: But you are not free to so what you want with those resources (air, water, non-renewable fuels) that we all must share.

    We don’t “share” petroleum. We buy it with our own money. If I buy some, what I do with it is none of your business.

  • avatar
    menno

    Geeber, our way of thinking is now in the minority.

    People who think they know best, will continue to want to tell others what to do with (fill in the blank).

    Yes, I do own a Prius. It’s because I like good stewardship. Not because I believe in “global warming” (which I consider so much bunkum and BS). I also own a Sonata which actually works out to be a better deal for the money, all things considered, unless a) you do all of your driving in the city or b) gas is $8 a gallon or more. But strictly math and gas savings weren’t the sole reasons for my enjoying the purchase and use of my Prius. I’m a car-guy and like it. I can’t find a good Citroen DS and there are no Citroen mechanics in my area anyway. It’s my choice, my money. Nuff said.

    I also see the continual fear-mongering by the powers-that-be and tampering with money by same, to be merely means of controlling we the people, so that we don’t stop, look, learn and change the game plan which currently tilts inordinately towards those who control all the levers behind the curtain….

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Ronman,
    I believe the idea was to build the various
    “Zeta” platforms world wide, but GMH was the Full size Rear Wheel drive design center. Now with GM NA bleeding to death and shutting down plants, and the Elizabeth plant running/requiring 50-60% export output to remain viable until the small 4 cylinder car comes on line, I can see the “zeta’s” coming from Australia until the Chinese (see Buick Park Lane) take over. Apart from the Camaro if/when/wherever that is built.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    “JEM :
    May 20th, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Having had occasion to observe and drive Antipodean Ford and GM product in its native habitat, I’ve long thought that the Aussie market product of the past couple decades were really alternative-universe US cars, a prime case of evolution observed in the wild – the same 1960s ancestry, but evolved without CAFE and without genuflection to snow-belt product managers. And as such, untainted by the poison that is front-wheel drive, adapted to rough outback conditions and tailored for a customer base that prizes room and durability, they were a much better product than any of the generations of junk their parent companies foisted upon American customers. Even the most basic six-cylinder stick-axle Falcon rentacar of a decade ago had that knows-where-the-road-goes feel and thousand-mile seats of good German hardware, and if the material quality wasn’t Audi neither was the price.

    Then GM went and wasted the jewel Impala nameplate on a front-drive fleet-disaster.

    Oh, that fleet thing sells, I guess it’s a matter of the biggest barge for the least money, but would it have sold any worse under a different name? I doubt it.

    One of GM’s myriad problems is that at least in the US there’s really two different groups of Chevrolet customer. There’s the ones for whom it’s just a cheap car, and then there’s the ones for whom there’s history behind the brand. A Camaro or a ‘Vette or even an upmarket truck is a tougher sell when the showroom’s full of Aveos.

    Well said and amen especially to the Wimpala part.

    “Bigsby :
    May 20th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    It is no accident that the only GM cars worth having today are the CTS and the G8. For anyone with even a bit of interest in the car as a driving machine rather than a utility Rear Wheel Drive is basic.

    The worst mistake GM ever made was to go entirely front wheel drive for all their non truck platforms. It may have saved money in terms of assembly process and was a help with CAFE but it instantly took away any sort of drive cred away especially with regard to performance and luxury.

    FWD is as much to blame for GM’s failure as CAFE, UAW, management, etc.

    “The Pontiac G8 GT I drove home last night gets it right. The Aussie sedan lacks a luxury interior and some “surprise and delight” features (e.g., rain-sense wipers, HID headlamps, and power reclining seats). But it delivers excitement at a price the average working stiff can afford (more so every day). It is a Pontiac. Perhaps even “the” Pontiac; a car that completely surpasses the performance and handling of the parts-bin specials from which the brand was born. The G8 does exactly what a Pontiac’s supposed to do.”

    BAH! The last true Pontiac was the 2002 Firebird/TransAm. If I wanted an import, I’d buy one, or move to AU.


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