Autextremist Posts on Autoextremist.com: Pontiac Is Toast

John Horner
by John Horner
autextremist posts on autoextremist com pontiac is toast
Peter DeLorenzo, the TTAC-aversive self-styled Autoextremist, has posted his Wednesday rant. Sweet Pete begins by claiming "It's all over but the hand-wringing for Pontiac." We would have gone with "bar the shouting," but true dat. DeLorenzo blames Pontiac's problems on GM's divisional confusion, it's lack of car culture and a dearth of Pontiac advertising. "Unless they can back those products with enough marketing and advertising horsepower," the former ad man insists, "It ultimately doesn't matter." Meanwhile, the Autoextremist's extreme adoration of GM Car Czar Bob Lutz shows incipient affection alienation. "The one thing that Lutz has misjudged since he began his tenure at GM is that he never did 'get' Pontiac. His idea that Pontiac should be the "affordable BMW" is flat-out wrong… Pontiacs should be raucous, distinctly American cars with real attitude, appealing to people who enjoy marching to a different drummer and who like to go their own way." Even so, DeLorenzo takes GM's beancounters to task for failing to follow the Motown Messiah. Sweet Pete says Maximum Bob has only succeeded in energizing a "network of True Believers." From there, it's the usual GM product renaissance shtick, DeLorenzo's potted version of Pontiac's history (so to speak) and a plea for restoring the former Excitement Division to it's imagined former glory. You know, GM should put DeLorenzo in charge of Pontiac. No, really. Why the Hell not?
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  • CarShark CarShark on May 07, 2008
    When you contemplate killing Pontiac you’re talking about killing GM’s #3 division. You’re talking about 358K sales in 2007. Assuming most of those sales were profitable, it becomes necessary to plan how to make up those lost sales. But you can't assume that the sales were profitable. Pontiacs move because of incentives and lease deals and fleet orders. Like jthorner said, retail sales are what matters. As for the Oldsmobile Dilemma, I think this question should be answered first: Was the loss of sales after the shuttering of Olds truly because irritated brand loyalists wouldn't buy another GM OR was it that GM just assumed that they would move up to Buick or down to Pontiac without making a concerted effort to keep them in the fold? If it was the latter, then I think that example is wrongly overused. It's in actuality just another case of GM taking its customers for granted. At the end of the day, I refuse to be content with a brand whose sole purpose is to keep dealers and the terminally stubborn happy.

  • Rix Rix on May 07, 2008

    There is also the question of whether you can profitably make Chevy without the Pontiac fleet volume. In business school, we learned about the 'death spiral' where you cut the unprofitable products...which spreads your overhead over a smaller base... which makes more products unprofitable...repeat until bankruptcy.

  • Alexdi Alexdi on May 08, 2008
    Pontiac isn't an "affordable" BMW because it was never cut out to play that role. Pontiacs should be raucous, distinctly American cars with real attitude, appealing to people who enjoy marching to a different drummer and who like to go their own way. I don't care what Pontiac was. In Pontiac's heyday, BMW had an audience of ten people. Right now, I want an affordable BMW, not some overpowered, "raucous," garishly styled attempt to recreate what's no longer relevant. Pontiac is the performance brand. Performance today means more than pin strips and displacement. People can argue until they're blue in the face about the extent to which the 135i is a perversion of the BMW tradition that arose with the 2002, but BMW can't sell that car anymore. People expect more of the brand, and so it is with Pontiac.

  • Geotpf Geotpf on May 08, 2008
    Rix : May 7th, 2008 at 10:53 pm There is also the question of whether you can profitably make Chevy without the Pontiac fleet volume. In business school, we learned about the ‘death spiral’ where you cut the unprofitable products…which spreads your overhead over a smaller base… which makes more products unprofitable…repeat until bankruptcy. Exactly my point. The Pontiac clones of Chevys (and Saturns and Holdens and...) help spread out the fixed costs to develop those models (tooling, engineering, overhead on the factory), as well as overall GM fixed costs. That is all Pontiac can do at this point-spread out fixed costs, and give GMC dealers some cars to sell. It's not going to be a pure sports brand, although GM is smart to give it some sporty cars. CarShark-Buick is still a "premium" brand. It's not going to get a compact car (well, it better not-GM gave Cadillac one at one point, so they might be that stupid). Pontiac has sold compact cars for years (Sunfire, Sunbird, T-1000, etc.). The G5 fits in that traditional pattern. Doing some searching, it looks like the Grand Prix has stopped production, and the Pontiac Torrent with become a GMC Terrain in MY 2010. That leaves Pontiac with the following: Pontiac G5 Pontiac Vibe Pontiac G6 Pontiac G8 Pontiac G8 ST (or whatever they end up calling it) Pontiac Solstice The only thing that is stupid here is the G# naming system, and the G8 ST car/pickup thing, which really should be a Chevy El Camino (or a GMC Caballero) and not a Pontiac. Two of six vehicles (the G8 and the Solstice) can properly be considered "sporty" even in base trim (and maybe the G8 ST, although a "sporty" pickup is kind of stupid), and there are "sporty" GT versions, with bigger engines than standard, on the rest of the models.

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