Bailout Watch 369: GM Clueless on Brands. Still.

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
bailout watch 369 gm clueless on brands still

On March 31, President Obama will contemplate GM’s viability report and decide whether the ailing American automaker is, as it contends, “viable.” If so, more bailout bucks. If not, more bailout bucks, in the form of debtor-in-possession financing to the bankrupt behemoth. Either way… In the run-up to CEO Rick Wagoner’s ritual disembowelment for failing to get his company’s shit together, the press is sensing the fact that Wagoner doesn’t have this shit together. This morning, Automotive News [AN, sub] reports on GM’s continued cluelessness on the “pssst. want to buy a dead brand” front. “Just a couple of weeks before General Motors has to submit a detailed plan proving viability, GM executives have no idea what to do with their losing brands.” Yes, AN has found its inner TTAC, affirming my suspicion that the MSM is gradually turning against Detroit’s mindless mega-suckle.


GM asked various companies to run Saturn and absorb the dealerships, provide product lines and perhaps rename the brand, says a source. Under that scenario, GM no longer would own part of Saturn. But no one was interested…

According to a dealer familiar with the talks, options include allowing dealers to buy the brand, blending Saturn into the Buick-Pontiac-GMC channel, finding an outside investor to finance an upgrade of the product lineup and finding a global partner.


GM hopes to make Saab an autonomous company, the source says. That means moving production, engineering and marketing to Sweden and pulling Saab out of GM’s global product and manufacturing system.

“We’re trying to see how much of Saab we could isolate,” the source says.

The next step is to secure funding from the Swedish government to help Saab run on its own. Saab hopes to launch the next 9-5 large sedan and new 9-4X crossover next year. The Swedish government has offered aid but does not want an ownership stake.


GM put Hummer on the block last summer and knowledgeable sources say there is an interested party. But sources close to GM say Hummer’s financial situation will make a deal difficult.

One source says it’s hard to build a business case for the brand, especially in view of coming U.S. fuel-economy standards. And the current global economic slowdown makes it unlikely that international sales could rescue Hummer.

GM is asking $500 million for Hummer but likely would settle for less, says a source close to the discussions.

No, we’re not starting a whip round. AN says GM may just close the dead brands and take the heat from franchisees. The “you try suing the federal government” approach would immerse GM in 50-state lawsuit hell. And what about Pontiac and Buick? What’s the plan there? At least we know what’s going on with Cadillac and Chevy’s product plans. Oh wait…

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  • Blobinski Blobinski on Feb 03, 2009

    Can someone tell me about the exciting new cars that GM will be producing in the next 24 months that will persuade me from buying a Hyundai (either Genesis, Sante Fe, or Elantra Touring)? Like most customers I compare price and standard features, warranty, reliability and financing.

  • Chnaane Chnaane on Feb 06, 2009

    Blobinski: Yep, I can tell you about the exciting new GM car that would make you pause before buying a Genesis. It is the Opel (Vauxhall, Holden) Insignia. Oh...oops, wait, that's right, we're in North America, so we'll have to wait for an "Americanized" (decontented, downgraded, detuned) version wearing a Saturn badge. Never mind, guess you'd better head for the Hyundai store after all.

  • Theflyersfan They might not be convertible friendly, but if they work on getting the last of the winter crud off of the car during the first spring wash, it's worth its weight in gold. So many of the self-serve car washes seem to have some kind of mechanical problem with one of the nozzles, or out of some chemicals - want to do that at home.
  • Bill Wade It's worked perfectly for me. Google maps is quite good and music streaming is flawless.
  • TheEndlessEnigma How much is TTAC getting from the Amazon referral links? Once again, nice ads camouflaged as an article.
  • Prabirmehta Great review! Brought back memories of my 2005 Z4 - loved it! I recently drove the 2023 Z4 and it felt similar in many ways to my 2005 (despite the much nicer and updated interior). Now your review has me rethinking whether to buy another one? :)
  • Haruhi Where’s this exact location