When GM was called to submit a plan to Congress on how they planned to make themselves a leaner, more competitive company, they declared they had four core brands-Chevy, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. GM appears committed to keeping Pontiac around (for now), but as a niche brand. So what will that leave us with? With some help from Autoblog and Automotive News, here is what we think.
The Garage reported that Pontiac was preparing to sell a badge-engineered Chevy Aveo as the G3 a couple months before GM reported how much trouble they were in. We had no problem with a small Pontiac, but as the performance division of GM, the G3 promised nothing more than what you already got with the Aveo, unless you count a flashier exterior. Now that Pontiac is being scaled down, expect a very short life-span for the G3.Ã‚Â
Interpretation: Any community college business professor would have advised GM that this was a complete waste of money and effort. A tiny, anemic, uninteresting car goes against what Pontiac tells us what they are supposed to be as a brand. Pontiac responded to our initial criticism of the G3, but this decision by GM is proof that the G3 was an ill-conceived idea from the start.
The Torrent replaced the hysterically ugly Aztek, and is essentially a Chevy Equinox with different front and rear-end styling. Although a high-performance GXP model was offered, the Torrent never caught on. A total afterthought, the Torrent never got any publicity or promotion. Pontiac is killing off the Torrent for 2009. Just as well.
Interpretation: It’s the ultimate confession. As the “performance” division of GM, the Torrent had no case to make for itself. Killing off the Torrent as of now cements that theory. It’s one thing if you are BMW and build an X3 that retains your brand values. It’s another if you build a Torrent. Few buyers were fooled.
The G8 ST
Ok. Any Chevy El Camino, Ford Ranchero fans out there, get ready to pounce on the G8 ST. Because the G8 ST can expect a short life-span. When the VP of Buick-Pontiac-GMC tells the press “We would be foolish if we didn’t take a second look at whether or not that is the right thing to do” (as in producing the G8 ST for, say, more than a couple weeks), you have been put on notice.
Interpretation: Chevy stopped selling the El Camino in 1987 because of poor sales. Pontiac product planners were either stoned or stupid when they green-lighted the G8 ST. GM’s last attempt at a high-performance, utility-poor pick-up, the Chevy SSR, was a horrible failure. The G8 sedan is tough enough to move off the lot, so who can explain the rationale for this…thing?
Autoblog did not go into further detail, but we can assume the rest. First, the Chevy Cobalt is giving way to the Cruze. Pontiac currently sells the G5 as a rebadged Cobalt, and with no news of a replacement, expect the G5 to go the way of the dinosaur. There has been no news about the G6 sedan, coupe or convertible. Based on the same chassis as the Chevy Malibu and Saab 9-3, the G6 is not in immediate danger. I predict that Chevy will offer upscale/sporty versions of the Malibu in the future, making the G6 redundant, if it isn’t already.
I can empathize if you are glad that Pontiac offers a sporty two-seater roadster and targa in the Solstice, but these are lean times, friend. The Targa will be new for 2009, but it’s a matter of time for the Solstice. My hope is that Pontiac keeps the Solstice around, keeping production (and overhead) low. There is no money to further develop the Solstice further for now to keep up with the evolving Mazda MX-5, but something is better than nothing.
And Buick-Pontiac-GMC VPÃ‚Â Susan Docherty concedes it could be down to just the G8 sedan to represent all of Pontiac, eventually. A sad tale for the brand that invented the muscle car. But a fitting ending for a brand that gave us awful ribbed body cladding Ã‚Â on all its sedans, only to follow up with the Aztek? You decide-tell us, readers, what should the fate of Pontiac be?