Without a doubt the biggest news from GM today was that Pontiac would be phased out, but there are other points worth mentioning here. GM confirmed that the “resolution” of Saab, Saturn and Hummer will be decided by the end of 2009 at the latest. To recap, Saab has filed with the Swedish government to reorganize itself while it seeks investors. Saab’s intent is to function as an independent company. With Saturn, the brand and its dealer network is essentially for sale. It’s speculated an Indian or Chinese manufacturer could buy in to take advantage of a ready to go dealer network. If a buyer doesn’t materialize Saturn’s current cars will run out their life cycle. Hummer is still on the market, but again, if no buyer is found, we’re looking at another shutdown.
A constant criticism of GM, in addition to having too many brands, has been having too many dealers. In 2008, GM had a total of 6,246 active dealers. GM now proposes that they will have 3,605 dealers by the end of 2010-that’s 500 fewer dealers and a full four years sooner than initially planned. In speaking with The Garage founder Gary Grant on the subject, his position is that dealers who have invested in their brand with up to date showrooms and facilities stand a good chance of staying. I agree-GM will be looking very carefully on a town to town basis, and the dealer who looks like he’s a living relic from Kurt Russell’s “Used Cars” won’t be long for this world. Expect to see the biggest cuts in heavily populated metropolitan areas.