Lutz: Feds Asked GM To Drop Pontiac

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

Our friends at Jalopbik covered this the other day, but it’s worth a repeat.

In the interview shown above, former GM poobah Bob Lutz makes any number of fairly interesting and/or outrageous claims, but the one most likely to rustle the jimmies out there is his assertion that the Pontiac brand was closed according to Federal diktat.

The Feds basically wanted to get GM down to Cadillac and Chevrolet. They said, “you don’t need all these brands. You need one prestige brand, and one mass-market brand.” And we said “well we can’t get rid of Buick because Buick is important in China, and if Buick becomes an orphan in the United States then the Chinese are no longer gonna be interested in it.” And the Feds said “Fair enough, but everything else goes.”

…[T]he Feds said “yeah, let’s just, how much money have you made on pontiac in the last 10 years?” and the answer was “nothing.” So, it goes. And, when the guy who is handing you the check for 53 billion dollars says I don’t want pontiac, drop pontiac or you don’t get the money, it doesn’t take you very long to make up your mind.

The entire discussion can be seen in the video starting at the two hour and fourteen-minute mark. So there you have it: the government might not have killed the 100-MPG carburetor or the flying car, but they certainly killed Pontiac. That is, if you have total faith in Mr. Lutz’s recollection of events.

Another interesting tidbit from the TL;DW video: the sole purpose of the CTS-V wagon was to raise the car’s profile in Europe. “Wagons radically outsell four-door sedans in Europe,” Lutz notes, “you rarely see a four-door sedan any more.” (According to various reports, wagons make up between 20 and 25 percent of most model mixes in Europe, with lower-cost brands like Skoda seeing as much as 25 percent penetration.) It doesn’t really matter if Bob’s Impressions Of Europe are correct: the CTS-V wagon made its bones in the United States just fine.

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  • Kyree Kyree on Oct 28, 2013

    Lutz said it best: "...When the guy who is handing you the check for 53 billion dollars says I don’t want pontiac, drop pontiac or you don’t get the money, it doesn’t take you very long to make up your mind." Pontiac had to go. There's no use crying over spilled milk...especially if the milk had gone sour...

    • 84Cressida 84Cressida on Oct 28, 2013

      The milk wasn't sour, it had cured into cheese by that point.

  • 84Cressida 84Cressida on Oct 28, 2013

    The best Pontiac that existed when the brand died was a Toyota. Not only should they have killed Pontiac, they should've trashed the whole company. They failed and they failed because of their own incompetence and stupidity, not because "the economy was bad" like the Detroit fanboys and UAW trolls want to believe. But since Barry wasn't going to let that happen and lose union votes, they should've held no prisioners and euthanized everything not named Chevrolet and Cadillac. Buick can live in China, but is not needed and is dead weight here. Nothing Buick sells couldn't be sold as a Cadillac. The fact that it took the Government BAILOUT to kill an unprofitable brand shows in volumes just how terribly run this company has been for a good chunk of its existence. I have zero doubt in my mind that Bob Lutz's little fantasy of what he claims was in development for Pontiac was nothing more than a fairy tale for a good story, and even if it had come to pass, it would've failed and failed miserably. Not only should the feds have nuked most of GM's brands, they should've shown the old coot the door with his pal Ricky.

    • See 1 previous
    • 84Cressida 84Cressida on Oct 28, 2013

      @mikey Truth hurts, just like Pontiac hurt GM.

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