GM: "We Still Don't Know What To Do With Pontiac"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
gm we still don t know what to do with pontiac

“We haven’t quite figured out exactly between sports cars and entry-level cars, but it’ll be a very narrowed and focused brand.” So pronounceth GM NA Marketing maven Mark LaNeve at a “roundtable interview” attended by Automotive News [AN sub]. Here’s another surprise: GM can’t figure out to do with HUMMER, Saab or Saturn, either. “There’s nothing that can be said today that can calm the nerves of a Saturn, Hummer or Saab dealer,” LaNeve said. Or is there? “The studies of Saab and Hummer are very externally focused,” LaNeve said. Translation from AN (for the drunks and idiots amongst us): “That means GM hopes to sell them or form some type of partnership.” Mark his words. “We have production facilities that could be carved out; we could build the vehicles for somebody.” Any idea who that could be? Me neither. Oh wait; “The Swedish government is involved in the Saab review.” Is that the same Swedish government that declared it would be a cold day in Hell before they combo-nationalized Saab and Volvo? Chrysler and GM, on the other hand… It gets better, Saturn-wise.

“The study of Saturn involves about 20 options, he [LaNeve] said. GM is trying to find a way to make the brand profitable. It has lost money in all but one year since its 1990 debut.

“I would hope by the next three or four weeks we will have a line of sight on what makes sense for this brand,” Jill Lajdziak, general manager of Saturn, said.

Twenty? The mind boggles. Would any of our Best and Brightest like to have a go?

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4 of 51 comments
  • GrandCharles GrandCharles on Jan 26, 2009

    Call me a dreamer but a still have soft spot for saturn. That mellow nice non arguing car company with plasticky car...and those bbq with all the other cult follower....:) Seriously, i own one of them for 8 years (a 2000 LS) and it was a decent car (200 000 kilometers before i sold it). It is still a solid, decent looking car with good fuel economy as my friend now owns it). So i think that brand is still a valuable name. Just stick to the original idea of a japanese fighter with no tie to GM, no euro, japanese. Who really thinks that a Volkswagen afficionados would jump in a Saturn? Seriously that doesn't match...and bring back the plastic panel!!!! No rust, no ding and screw the panel gap crap, i don't care!!! Back to basic Saturn

  • CarPerson CarPerson on Jan 26, 2009

    PeteMoran and Pch101 consistently nail both the problem and the solution. I am having a hard time understanding why the General Motors Board of Directors, President, and Operating Officers and Executives are so totally blind to where the road they are on leads the company.

  • Bunter1 Bunter1 on Jan 26, 2009

    We probably won't have to worry about this one for long. Close Sadturn, Dummer, not-really-a-chevy-truck, Geezer Buggy, and Chevy-mit-beak? Why bother? GMNA is terminal. Bunter

  • Njdave Njdave on Jan 26, 2009

    Bunter, You are correct that GM is terminal in its current form. They have lost all brand focus and differentiation. Every consumer knows that a Buick is just a more expensive Chevy with different badges and trim on it. What they should do for a real long term fix is to make the different brands really different and specialized. Have Pontiac for example build only sports cars. Sports cars are a niche product, but it can be a good niche. People will pay a LOT of money for a good sports car. The key is that it has be a really good sports car. Have Chevy build reliable family cars. Make sure that they are the best family cars on the market. Have Buick make minivans. Make sure that they are the best minivans you can buy. Have Caddy make true luxury cars. Again, the best you can buy. GMC would build pickups and SUVs. Again make them the best trucks and SUVs you can buy. Keep each companies design department separate from all the others. Make sure that each is laser-focused on their particular niche product. Make sure they are free to design their product to be the best without interference from corporate. GM as a corporation makes large scale purchases such as media buys and raw materials to take advantage on the economy of scale. Niche's aren't bad things. They can be enormously profitable if you compete successfully in that niche. Stop trying to have all brands have all types of vehicles. Stop having the only difference between brands be a badge. Just really focus on your product at each brand and compete like hell. Then you can be successful.