Remember Plymouth? Oldsmobile? Those car brands disappeared mostly because they duplicated another line’s models (in this case Dodge and Buick) by just changing the badges. “Badge engineering” some called it.
Now GM must slim down. The question is – which brands and nameplates to cut?
DETROIT — General Motors says it will eliminate eight nameplates by 2012.
But determining which vehicles will go isn’t as simple as finding eight sales duds in GM’s lineups. GM will kill more than eight vehicles — while adding several others — by 2012.
And what does GM consider essential?
GM’s bailout plan says core brands are Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC. Pontiac is a survivor, but just barely. Pontiac becomes a niche player with maybe two nameplates.
Buick? Isn’t most of their customer base dead, or in nursing homes?
GM already has said it is exploring the sale of Saab and Hummer. In addition, it is reviewing the fate of Saturn. The brands may be sold. If not, the brands are likely history, and so are their models. Saab has three nameplates, Hummer two and Saturn has five — that’s 10 nameplates gone.
Cadillac likely has at least two nameplates on the extinction list, the DTS sedan and two-seat XLR. U.S. sales of the $85,000-plus XLR totaled a measly 1,151 for the 11 months through November.
The DTS and Buick Lucerne sedan share a front-drive platform, slated for extinction by 2012. But Buick could receive a full-sized, rear-drive sedan from GM’s Holden subsidiary in Australia, which assembles the Park Avenue for China. There have been hints that GM may add a smaller sedan for Buick.
Who the fuck is going to buy the Hummer brand? And Saturn’s models should be integrated into the remaining brands, IMHO.
Other likely candidates to chop include the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups. Through November, combined Colorado/Canyon U.S. sales totaled 63,430 units. GM already plans to drop Chevrolet’s TrailBlazer mid-sized SUV and Uplander minivan.
Pontiac will be a “specialty/niche brand with reduced product offerings,” according to the document GM submitted to Congress. Pontiac’s biggest-volume nameplate, the mass-market G6, would appear to be on the chopping block. Ditto for the two-seat Pontiac Solstice, a Saturn Sky clone. Likely candidates for survival include the G8 rear-wheel-drive car and possibly the Vibe compact.
Stay tuned – I’ll let you know what ends up in the federal crusher.