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GM Kills Pontiac and Cuts US Dealerships by Half

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Luc Gagné
At a press conference held this morning in Detroit, General Motors announced that it will kill the Pontiac brand and reduce its US dealership network by half.

An updated Viability Plan presented explains how GM "will accelerates the timeline for a number of important actions and makes deeper cuts in several key areas of it's operations."

The Pontiac brand will be phased out by the end of 2010. This revised plan also moves up the already announced elimination of Saab, Saturn, and Hummer to the end of 2009, at the latest.

In 2011, this will leave GM with a 34 nameplates compared with 48 in 2008.

GM also aims at reducing its U.S. dealer count from 6,246 in 2008 to 3,605 by the end of 2010, a 42% reduction. This is a further reduction of 500 dealers, and four years sooner, than in the Viability Plan presented on February 17.

This morning, GM CEO Fritz Henderson announced that GM will focus its resources on only four core brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC, and that the Pontiac will go.

Equivalent actions are considered for the Canadian market, where the dealership structure is different however.

Plant closures
Assembly, powertrain, and stamping plant closures remain as announced in the February 17 plan 13 by the end of 2010, and an additional 3 by the end of 2012. By that time, the GM plant count will have gone down from 47 to 31. Expert say that this will bring GM overall production down from about 4,1 million to about 3,7 million vehicles by 2014.

GM U.S. hourly employment will follow a similar path. Job count will shrink from 61,000 in 2008 to 38,000 starting in 2011, a 38% reduction. This represents 7,000 to 8,000 more job cuts than announced in the February 17 Plan.

At the press conference, Fritz Henderson, GM president and CEO, confirmed that this revised plan changes nothing to several new products launch schedule, including the Chevrolet Camaro, Equinox, Cruze and Volt; Buick LaCrosse (Allure in Canada); GMC Terrain; and Cadillac SRX and CTS Sport Wagon and Coupe.

Special emphasis was put on the Volt during this press conference, where it was announced that development and testing of that car remains on track for start of production by the end of 2010 and arrival in Chevrolet dealer showrooms soon thereafter.

More details on the American initiatives tied to this revised Viability Plan will be provided in May.

After Oldsmobile, there goes Pontiac...
The Pontiac brand was introduced in 1926. It was created to offer low-priced cars alongside the Oakland brand, which was part of the GM portfolio since 1909. The Oakland brand was phased out in 1931 as its "companion" brand, Pontiac, had quickly gained much more importance.

Pontiac will be remembered for the 1964 GTO, a car some historians refer to as first Muscle Car. Others will remember Burt Reynolds driving his 1977 Firebird Trans Am in the comedy film "Smokey an the Bandit". However few will regret the odd-looking Aztek SUV introduced in 2001!

In 2004, GM had phased out Oldsmobile, a 107-year old brand. Pontiac will have lasted 84 years.

The 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe: now more than ever a future collectible!

photo:General Motors
Luc Gagné
Luc Gagné
Automotive expert
  • More than 30 years of experience as an automotive journalist
  • Over 59 test drives in the past year
  • Attended over 150 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists