By on April 27, 2009

GM has released its press release releasing [both] remaining fans of the Pontiac brand from the suspense surrounding its untimely (as in late) demise. “As part of the revised Viability Plan and the need to move faster and further, GM in the U.S. will focus its resources on four core brands, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. The Pontiac brand will be phased out by the end of 2010. GM will offer a total of 34 nameplates in 2010, a reduction of 29 percent from 48 nameplates in 2008, reflecting both the reduction in brands and continued emphasis on fewer and stronger entries. This four-brand strategy will enable GM to better focus its new product development programs and provide more competitive levels of market support.” Buick? “The revised plan moves up the resolution of Saab, Saturn, and Hummer to the end of 2009, at the latest.” GM CEO Fritz Henderson put a brave face on the news, ’cause that’s who he is and what he does.

“We have strong new product coming for our four core brands: the Chevrolet Camaro, Equinox, Cruze and Volt; Buick LaCrosse; GMC Terrain; and Cadillac SRX and CTS Sport Wagon and Coupe,” said Henderson. “A tighter focus by GM and its dealers will help give these products the capital investment, marketing and advertising support they need to be truly successful.”

I’m lost. How many rebadges are left? Anyway, read Paul Niedermeyer’s Pontiac obit here. I’ll put up Michael Karesh’s G8 GXP review in a mo’ and provide an update the employment and production side of GM’s new new new new new new new new turnaround plan. Meanwhile, how sad is this, from underneath the press release:

About GM – General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), one of the world’s largest automakers [emphasis added], was founded in 1908, and today manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 243,000 people in every major region of the world, and sells and services vehicles in some 140 countries. In 2008, GM sold 8.35 million cars and trucks globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at

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57 Comments on “GM Kills Pontiac, HUMMER, Saab and Saturn...”

  • avatar

    Sounds good; though GMC [trucks] should be killed off too.

    Though, we should still remain a little skeptical until it actually happens.

    Is there still the idea / plan of having pontiac as a very small ‘niche’?

  • avatar

    I have to question the soundness of scrapping brands before a definite resolution in a Chapter 11. Is it any idea to make this move before that time?

  • avatar


    A truck brand that is basically ALL rebadges has no place in the GM portfolio any more. Trucks are going to lose popularity severely as soon as gas goes back up to $4+ a gallon. You freaking fumbled the ball again, you morons! Maybe GM deserves to die after all.

  • avatar

    I suspect they have to keep Buick and GMC around to maintain their legal obligations to the network of Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealers.

  • avatar

    So I’m guessing my father-in-law should really hang onto his last model-year Firebird Firehawk (supposed to be inherited by my son down the road)…and would this be a good time to consider buying a lightly used Solstice (and I’m not really even a Pontiac “guy” but am strangely attracted to the little bugger)…

  • avatar

    See…Bob told us all years ago that this was a damaged brand. What’s sad is that he said it – it was true – and yet they continued to pour money into it while Bob was kicking it with the Solstice coupe and the G8 (which should have been called the Boneville). When all this is done, GM will be the #4 Player in the US.

  • avatar

    Is it just me? Never had or even driven a Pontiac but somehow I think it’s a sad day today. I felt the sameway when Plymouth was gone. Oh well.

  • avatar

    It seems that this is a political decision, to show due diligence in the quest for more bailout bucks. I can’t see any business interest in this move, before the question of the whole of GM is resolved. Who can tell in that time, what makes sense or not? But making that kind of decisions in the meantime seems stupid, as it negates the alternatives in a Chapter 11.

  • avatar

    This is like a combination of Survivor and The Apprentice. Damn, another good idea too late. Can you imagine the money and publicity if GM had done a reality show? Just think, pitting all the “Division” general managers against one another in a suspense-filled game of attrition.

    OK, the game needs to continue. Someone needs to pick either Chevy or GMC to be fired/voted off the island. I have read good rationale’s from defenders of both brands. Fact is, the two competing nameplates is part historical accident and part bad management. GMC was the original GM truck business before Billy Durant used Chevrolet to re-take control of the General. In that day, Chevy’s whole reason for being was to beat Ford,that during the Model T days had something like a 50% or better market share. To do it in all those farm communities, you needed trucks.

    The bad management part was to take a small seller of commercial trucks and turn it into an upscale consumer brand that traded on the commercial-duty heritage. The badge-enginerring was not unsuccessful. They move a lot of units. Problem is, at this clean sheet of paper moment, The General needs to simplify, simplify, simplify.

    My vote is to go GMC. Give all the Chevy dealers the GMC franchise. I can hear all the “Chevy can’t let Ford have all the trucks” chorus, but GM/Chevy needs to get off the “beat Ford” mentality. They need a “Beat FoMoCo” and a “Beat Toyota” mentality.

    Buick? Is this the new Mercury? Is there a market anywhere for a near-luxury brand? I understand the allure of the car that is so popular in China, but I don’t personally see how Buick can carve out a niche without diminishing Chevy and Cadillac.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I like the choice of the Monkeemobile. It’s sort of like a Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn in one tidy youth-oriented muscle-car fashion statement rolled into one.

    Alas poor Pontiac. The G8. Too little, too late. Perhaps it will be bodge engineered into a Chevy.

  • avatar

    Killing Pontiac (which actually had potential as a niche sport brand) but keeping GMC?

    Different day, same GM idiocy.

  • avatar

    I want to build on mtr2car1’s post…
    This is what’s so crazy about GM. There’s no possible way that GM decided sometime on this past Saturday morning to kiss Pontiac good-bye. This had to be in the cards for awhile.
    So, what cars are in the latest round of auto rags? Solstice coupe and G8 GXP. Makes sense…
    This is the same brand that within 48 hours of the infamous “No More Badge Engineering” management quote, they received the G5.

    I would have put money on GMC and Buick getting the axe (besides the smaller brands.) All GMC consists of are rebadges with more chrome and Buick has turned into the last new car you buy before you die. Pontiac, with the right leadership, had a chance with products like the G8.

    I won’t miss Pontiac (once you’ve seen a Fiero burn with your own eyes, it changes your outlook on the brand) but the axe fell on the wrong brand.

    Now give the G8 to Chevy, make it the new Impala, and it should compete.

  • avatar

    I’m just shaking my head. GM “Management” is so screwed up at this point they deserveto die — and this is coming from a long time GM supporter. I fail to see the logic in completely killing off Pontiac when they are the third best selling line they’ve got, right behind Chevy and GMC. They sell more than Buick, Saab and Hummer combined. Just when it looks like they might get some real hardware, they pull the plug just like they did with Oldsmobile. Just keep Pontiac with the G8, G6GXP stuff (2 and 4 door), and the Solstice. That’s all I ask. Sounds like they are trying to turn into a bland Toyota look-alike from a product perspective.

    I’ll be keeping my current GM sleds for a while — ’cause I ain’t buying anything new from ANYBODY!!!!

  • avatar

    I would argue that keeping Buick is a bigger mistake than holding onto GMC. Since they’ve retired all the old model names and replaced them with interchangeable pseudo-French luxobarges (and the Enclave), what does the brand even stand for anymore? If Toyota can sell the Avalon as a Toyota, why can’t GM sell their pimped-out large sedan as a Chevy (a-la the old Caprice Classic) for their retiree-mobile?

  • avatar

    Any word on what happens to the NUMMI plant? As a happy owner of Pontiac Vibe I really want to know.

  • avatar

    Thanks O for doing what GM management could have done 10 years ago.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @ttacfan: NUMMI also builds the Toyota Tacoma, but good question – it’s still overcapacity.

    Pontiac Solstice = money loser
    GMC trucks = profitable even with bailout cash on the hood

    Sad, and inevitable.

  • avatar

    Too bad this wasn’t done long ago. Massive waste of money brand engineering the same basic car into a slightly different model, then needing 5 different advertising campaigns to sell it. Outright lunacy.

    I know some hate the idea of government intervention, but that is what moved this up. GM would have dragged this on for ages.

    It is a Sad commentary on GM that the government acts faster than they do and forces them to do likewise.

  • avatar

    @improvement_needed & superbadd75

    I believe GMC is still alive due to commercial applications:

    Buick is valuable globally.

    Those two points are easily missed if you are just a normal “car guy” here in the US, but I think they are (in a very simple form) the reason for the selections.

  • avatar

    Buick, really, they’re keeping Buick?!

    Lets play word association: First few things that comes to (my) mind when I hear the word ‘Buick’: old people, blue hair, and luxo-barges.

    But what do I know…

  • avatar

    I’m guessing they kept GMC for it’s fleet and chassis sales. They would have been better off rolling GMC into Chevy since they are the same anyway. They should have also rolled Saturn into Pontiac and kept it as the “performance” division. It will be sad to see the G8 go..

    I think Buick should go the way of Old’s and just keep Cadillac, though I know older folks love their Buick’s, and Cadillac hasn’t impressed me these last few years.

  • avatar

    What’s going to happen to the G8? Will it be rebadged as a Chevy? I can see the rebirth of the Impala coming out of this.

    And Autoblog is reporting that Holden could lose $1 billion a year from the killing of the G8…

  • avatar

    Basically this is yet another 2 year plan to do some stuff….

    Being cashtrated is hard enough.. I guess it’s even harder when you have to do it to yourself…

    I’m learning that the main benefit of being in bankruptcy is that a judge tells you what to do since you are there because you couldn’t do it yourself.


  • avatar

    @ Rod Panhard: I agree about the G8, but I’d also maybe throw the Solstice in with it. Maybe now they can use what is the G8 as an Impala (which I thought was in the cards anyway), and the Solstice can serve as sort of a Corvette lite. Thoe 2 models are unlike anything else in the GM NA lineup, and I think they have a place, even if it’s just a bit part. Unlamented will be the loss of cars like the G6, Torrent, and the almost-had-it Aura.

  • avatar

    Wow, American manufacturing is reverting back to the days of pre-industrialization just after 1800.
    Will Europe bail us out. Wait, that is already happening with Fiat.

  • avatar

    They kept GMC for the Trucks. Not the less than 1 ton pickup variety but the real trucks, you know, that haul stuff.

    Buick probably stayed around because GM doesn’t want to hurt sales in China. Their bet is that they can possibly sell more vehicles per year in China than the rest of the world combined in the very near future.

  • avatar

    Why not just keep Buick as a China-only brand, then, and discontinue it in the States? Is the fact that they’re not on sale here really going to dissuade the Chinese consumer from buying one?

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    I read once that the typical GMC Suburban owner makes more money than the Escalade owner.

    So, by that logic, regular people buy Chevy, the rich buy Cadillac, and the really rich buy GMC.

  • avatar

    The innevitable after the AZTEC.
    It took a while but now its there. The last bit of interest in the brandname Pontiac was snuffed out by that monumental mistake.
    A renowed cardealer in Manahattan (outside the GM brand) kept one Aztec around to punish the least productive salesguy/gal by having to drive the Aztec as company car. lol.

  • avatar

    I don’t see the point of keeping Buick over Pontiac. They could call Pontiacs Buicks in China. Or, who knows, maybe not. But Saturn as a brand is long gone, as is Saab, and Hummer is a reverse halo truck

  • avatar

    @ Matthew Danda
    Very interesting. Probably the really rich guy doesn’t need to flaunt it the way the nouveau riche does. Or maybe doesn’t want to be associated with MC Killa BadBoy.

  • avatar

    They should have jettisoned Buick and GMC and kept Pontiac as a niche brand – all rear wheel drive vehicles.

    The writing was on the wall when they rebadged the Cobalt and Aveo as the G5 and G3. Someone needs taken out back and shot for those decisions. The Vibe could have easily been moved to the Chevrolet stable too…oh well. Par for the course with GM.

  • avatar

    “I don’t see the point of keeping Buick over Pontiac.”

    I don’t see anything unique brand image wise in Pontiac that you can’t get from Chev. When I think performance, I think Chev (historically Corvette, Camaro, various SS models) before Pontiac. But I am talking image here. When I think Pontiac, my main association is unfortunately a Chevy with extra plastic and extra cheesiness. Nothing desirable.

    Buick brand image is more unique as it is the old persons brand. It may not be exciting, but it has that association, so it might be worth keep for some time until the clientele dies off, or is moved to Cadillac. Frankly I would rather buy a Buick than a Pontiac because it isn’t as cheesy.

    But really don’t think of models here. This is about brand image. Any specific Pontiac worth keeping can be moved to Chevy with no real change.

    Chevy can easily serve as the everyman and performance cars. Really one brand could do it all if need be. In ten years they would likely be better off managing two like the Japanese competition. Chevy and Cadillac would be all you need. Getting to 4 is good first step.

  • avatar


    “Lets play word association: First few things that comes to (my) mind when I hear the word ‘Buick’: old people, blue hair, and luxo-barges.”

    And Chinese. Lots and lots of Chinese!

  • avatar


    I wouldn’t worry about NUMMI, because it’s home of the Corolla. That’s not going anywhere. As far as your Vibe goes, it is the Toyota Matrix’s twin, so if you have to have a new Vibe, it will probably have to be a Matrix. GM may re badge the Vibe as a Chevy (or Cadillac, or a Buick, or a GMC – it’s GM, anything is possible) as NUMMI is a joint GM/Toyota venture.

    One word of advise: Your Pontiac is a Toyota and comes with Toyota Red coolant in it, Not Dex-Cool. When you flush or have your coolant flushed, Insist on Toyota Red, Not Dex-Cool!

  • avatar


    A truck brand that is basically ALL rebadges has no place in the GM portfolio any more. Trucks are going to lose popularity severely as soon as gas goes back up to $4+ a gallon. You freaking fumbled the ball again, you morons! Maybe GM deserves to die after all.

    Do you like PROFITS??

    Think of the $$$ it takes to design a GMC Sierra if the VAST majority of it is carry over from the Silverado.

    GMC is HUGELY profitable. That is why they keep it.

    It’s very simple, really.


    And Chinese. Lots and lots of Chinese!

    And that is EXACTLY why they are keeping Buick. Do you realize that China is expected to grow exponentially inthe next 5-10 years?


    Alas poor Pontiac. The G8. Too little, too late. Perhaps it will be badge engineered into a Chevy.

    It already is.


    Wow…the market is sure reacting favorably to he news. As of this typing, GM stock is up almost 25%.

  • avatar

    I don’t see the point of keeping Buick over Pontiac.

    Buick’s lineup is already small, and doesn’t include a lot of fleet sales. If the eventual goal is to kill off the entire BPG channel, it will be easier to unwind a BG network than a PG network.

    The bad news here is that renting a car is going to get more expensive. Then again, maybe it just became more Korean.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    How can GM kill Saab? I thought Saab was independent now. Or was that a lie intended to facilitate its destruction?

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    Buick is for old people, like 90 years old and older.

    The fact is, THE CAR BUYERS decided Buick’s fate years ago, and GM refuses to acknowledge it. The only case for it is if China can sustain it by itself, because the stigma is too rooted and American baby boomers are about staying young. Buying a Buick is like signing up for a AARP card. No thanks.

  • avatar

    Oooh, love the car in the picture! I just knew Bob Lutz had another exciting design in the pipeline. But I wonder–could they add some extra plastic and extra cheesiness? It takes more than a two-nostril grill to make a car a true Pontiac.

    In other news … most reports say Pontiac will be “phased out.” What does that mean — that the Alero, er, I mean G6, will hang on into 2011?

  • avatar

    Let’s see…

    Cadillac – high margin, improving performance and quality – good market segment – growth opportunity, keep

    Chevrolet – Bread and butter – decent vehicles – terrible brand image – must keep, no option, but re-name every passenger vehicle to something NEW!

    Buick – depends undergarments, Tiger Woods, depends undergarments – Get off my lawn, you damn kids! Should be euthanized.

    Pontiac – sporty, fun, unique, interesting to a good sized market segment – Keep. Hey! WTF?

    Saturn – entry level competes w/ Chevrolet – Kill

    GMC – trucks, trucks, trucks. Perhaps they’ll stop making Chevy trucks and just make GMCs. Or GMC’s will be industrial strength trucks only. Hmmmm!

    Hummer – please, even with my my strong, midwestern roots (read: red, small government, libertarian) I can see the worthlessness of this brand. Extinct due to evolutionary pressures

    Saab – are they part of GM? ;-} what a shame!

  • avatar

    “How can GM kill Saab? I thought Saab was independent now. Or was that a lie intended to facilitate its destruction?”

    Saab is now only a debt-ridden burden. Even as an empty shell-company, it is worthless. GM starved the company to death, robbed it of its assets, and left it to wither on the vine. Saab is such a liability GM can’t even give it away. If they had money, they would have to pay someone to get rid of the shit, but as they haven’t and can’t, liquidation seems to be the only option. Good job, GM! You really know how to manage a company…

  • avatar

    Robert Farago wrote:

    “I’m lost. How many rebadges are left? Hey! What about the plug-in hybrid electric – gas Chevrolet Volt? You’d think Fritz would mention it.”

    Fritz did mention it, in the quote directly above this paragraph. Okay he didn’t add “plug-in hybrid electric” in front of Volt, but IMMO the car’s name is “Plug-In Hybrid Electric Volt”…

  • avatar

    About a month ago I saw, from an overpass in Alexandria, VA, a lot full of unsold new Pontiacs, including no less than 35 G8’s. People simply do not want these cars, and this would be true even if they were called Bonnevilles. (I drove a ’66 Bonneville convertible from 1974 to ’91 but prefer a manual tranny these days.)

    Damn, Pontiac used to make great cars, in some cases without real competition, for example our family’s 1967 Executive 3-row wagon with a/c, cruise, 8-track, etc. I suppose that Pontiac’s brand identity might have been maintained had gas remained cheap through the 1970s, but instead we got the crappy early-’80s cars (advertised with the slogan “More Pontiac per Gallon”) and their descendants.

    As for NUMMI, don’t forget that Chevy dealers did sell that factory’s GM-branded output for nearly 20 years (Chevy Nova – Geo Prizm – Chevy Prizm; four generations in all) and could do so again. Something with larger windows than the current Matrix/Vibe, please!…

  • avatar

    The reason GMC survives is because it pays for itself. It is a cash cow. Trucks so far outsell cars, that even in this depressed market, trucks are still bringing in profits.

    That is why it is sheer insanity for the auto makers to listen to a government filled with hybrid driving car haters. These people do not like cars or trucks and see a future where cars are available that is attractive to them. But since they have odd tastes, following their advice will mean bankrupsy for GM.

    GM cannot pay the bills if it believes that electrics or hybrids will be their future.

  • avatar

    So, when do the Saturn and Pontiac sales start?

    My wife (I love her, but she makes it hard sometimes) really wants a Saturn Sky.

    She is oblivious to everything GM and I’ve given up trying to talk her into a Miata or even a used BMW Z4.

  • avatar

    I know some hate the idea of government intervention, but that is what moved this up. GM would have dragged this on for ages.

    Um, actually, GM would have already been in bankruptcy without government intervention. Without governemnt intervention there was no way for them to drag anything out past last December.

  • avatar


    My bad. Text amended.

  • avatar

    I have hopes for Buick after seeing the new LaCrosse at the NY Auto show. The interior was highly impressive in this. A good (and overdue) start.

    But like everyone else, wtf GMC? I demand an editorial to explain.

  • avatar

    GM still makes Pontiacs! I thought they were just rebadged Holdens, Toyotas and Chevys. Pontiac died after 2002 when they droped the Firebird and brought in the Vibe, letter names and the fake GTO. I mean the great Lutz decreed Pontiac a “damaged brand” as far back as 2003 and all of his and Wagoners decisions thus have made damn sure of this fact.

  • avatar

    The reason GMC survives is because it pays for itself. It is a cash cow. Trucks so far outsell cars, that even in this depressed market, trucks are still bringing in profits.

    Ahhh…common sense.

    Good to see some of it. Thank you!

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t worry about NUMMI, because it’s home of the Corolla. That’s not going anywhere

    The Corolla and Matrix are also made in Cambridge, Ontario (as is the Lexus RX). I think Toyota, if given the option, would probably keep Cambridge over NUMMI as the utilization would make more sense. That leaves the not-so-hotly selling Tacoma, which could be shifted to Tijuana or Japan.

    NUMMI is a good plant, but it’s not a lynchpin for Toyota by any stretch.

  • avatar

    So you said there’s not a viable marketing plan for Pontiac products?

    Should have thought of that before wasting money on the G3. And in any case, your “sporty” marketing plan for the G3 was false.

    Get that G8 somewhere else in GM. Now. You are not killing the G8.

  • avatar

    Keep in mind, GM hasn’t killed anything. This is their new, new, new, new, new plan. It now has to pass through every lobbyist and bureaucrat in Washington before it can be enacted and by then there will be a whole new plan.

  • avatar

    It is likely that the company which will emerge after GM’s bankruptcy won’t contain Opel/Vauxhall and Daewoo will probably also be split off. This means that the resulting company needs their Chinese operations for size. Keeping Buick sold in the US just makes it politically easier so hold onto the Buick-China.

  • avatar


    Excellent point… Just another draft plan. People (including me) tend to forget that GM is no longer in control and NONE of the stakeholders have formally approved all of this.

    They can’t even afford the severance packages for the salaried employees without US taxpayer support. Ironic that the employees are subsidizing their own paychecks with the taxes they pay.

    Sad to think that every GM and Chrysler payroll is now welfare… If the dollar crashes, they may pay the employees with cheese or powdered milk.

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    I got more of a kick out of the blurb below the blurb below the press release:

    “Forward-Looking Statements – In this press release and in related comments by our management, our use of the words “plan,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “ensure,” “promote,” “believe,” “improve,” “intend,” “enable,” “continue,” “will,” “may,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “project,” “positioned” or similar expressions is intended to identify forward-looking statements that represent our current judgment about possible future events. We believe these judgments are reasonable, but these statements are not guarantees of any events or financial results, and our actual results may differ materially due to a variety of important factors. Among other items, such factors might include: our ability to comply with the requirements of our credit agreement with the U.S. Treasury; our ability to execute the restructuring plans that we have disclosed, our ability to maintain adequate liquidity and financing sources and an appropriate level of debt; the ability of our foreign subsidiaries to restructure and receive financial support from their local governments or other sources; our ability to restore consumers’ confidence in our viability and to continue to attract customers, particularly for our new products; our ability to sell, spin-off or phase out some of our brands, to manage the distribution channels for our products, and to complete other planned asset sales; and the overall strength and stability of general economic conditions and of the automotive industry, both in the U.S. and globally.”

    …but this stuff is relatively minor, the future is bright for GM. Please note: the word “bright” should also be considered a forward-looking comment.

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