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Could GM Be Ready to Trim More Brands?


How deeply will GM plunge the knife? As it struggles to halt the hemorrhaging, the ailing automaker is considering just about every option available, and that could include still more job cuts – and the sale of one or more of its brands.

“Nothing is off the table,” a well-placed source tells the Wall Street Journal.

With a goal of returning to profitability by 2010, GM has a lot of work ahead of it. The automaker has already announced plans to halt production at four of its light truck plants, and it has, so far this year, eliminated tens of thousands of jobs, mostly on the hourly side. But it is reportedly preparing to eliminate thousands of additional white-collar jobs and is considering still further plant closings.

Earlier this year, the automaker announced it was considering various options for its struggling Hummer brand. An anti-icon for environmentalists and those who would sharply raise automotive fuel economy, insiders say there is a very good chance GM will either sell or simply close down Hummer.

It would be only the second GM brand to be dropped in decades – the moribund Oldsmobile division was sent to the junkyard a few years ago.

But the cutbacks might not stop there, says the Journal. In fact, the automaker is carefully rethinking the business case for all but two of its brands: the flagship Cadillac and Chevrolet marques.

A few years ago, the automaker came under heavy pressure to abandon Buick, which has seen its market share drop nearly 60 percent – to just 1.0 percent – since 2000. Insiders tell TheCarConnection that the only reason Buick remains in the GM tent is that it has become the automaker’s powerhouse nameplate in China. And, indeed, upcoming U.S. Buicks are being designed with Chinese motorists first in mind.

The Swedish Saab brand is among the most likely to be cut, observers believe. After two decades of ownership, GM has simply not been able to move the needle, and Saab remains little more than an industry afterthought.

The once-powerful Pontiac is another brand that has lost its raison d’etre over the years, and new products have yet to revitalize the marque’s longtime “We build excitement” image.

GM has had some modest success with the GMC brand, but it still sells largely upmarket clones of Chevrolet’s light truck offerings.

And then there’s Saturn. The once-maverick brand showed, early on, that it could attract the import-minded buyers who would normally never consider a GM product. But sorely neglected for cash and products, Saturn lost its original momentum, and even a recent infusion of new models – most developed jointly with the automaker’s European Opel subsidiary – hasn’t done much to revive things.

Only the giant Chevrolet, which has begun reconnecting with passenger car buyers, with products like the well-reviewed Malibu and luxury marque Cadillac, seems immune from the knife.

Eliminating brands would potentially save GM billions in money it must spend to come up with alternative versions of otherwise identical products. There would be some lost sales to brand loyalists, but the automaker is convinced it could win back some of those buyers. And even it couldn’t, the cost of keeping them in the GM world is simply more than it can afford anymore.

Which brand(s) would our readers chop?
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Comments (14)
  1. I would axe, Saab. I hate looking at people that drive a "Saab". Buy a volvo or a bmw and get over yourself. Buick should have went away right after Oldsmobile. Though I do enjoy the Tiger Woods commercials. Saturn should be a hybrid only company. That would be enticing to a new car buyer. Pontiac, I suppose its still around because of GM being rooted from Michigan and Pontiac being a symbol of Pontiac, Michigan. Anyone been to Pontiac recently?
     
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  2. With trouble mounting at our Domestic big three, it looks like our Auto industry is following what happened to our Steel Industry! It is going by the waste side. What a shame!
     
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  3. I would cut loose GMC, Hummer, and Saab. If that isn't enough I would move onto Saturn and then Pontiac.
     
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  4. GM has some good people, like Ed Peper running Chevy. Though the brand has not seen the product infusion as other brands, he keeps the ship moving. GM needs to ensure Chevy mirrors and leads Toyota in every segment even by adding a "Lucerne Clone" as the Caprice to round out the line battling the Toyota Avalon. Chevy needs an edgy small car not the cute but personality-less Aveo, IE: the Beat 3 door and the Groove 5 Door. Build them on the same/stretched platform. Get a Turbo Diesel from somewhere in the stable too. Chevy’s Cobalt replacement (Rumored to be called the Chevelle) needs to follow in the footsteps of the Malibu and must be a game changer and the segment leader. The name will bring recognition and if the car is as good as it should be, the car and name would help carry it, and go easier on the marketing budget. Caddy needs to aggressively mirror Mercedes/BMW in every market, even the upper end. Why does China have a stretched SLS when Caddy can barely give away the STS here? I know they like personal drivers there, but c'mon. The STS is not the car it should be and even the SLS would be a stop gap even a transitional vehicle until the replacement is here. Pontiac should address smaller players like Nissan/VW even Honda with product from Chevy but done as VW does with Audi. An Audi A3 is essentially a VW Bug etc... with some specialty cars thrown in. For heaven’s sakes bring back some names guys. Instead of G8 GXP call it the G8-Bonneville. If you want to stand out, quit being so "me too". Also give Pontiac a Firebird, but change its mission to beautifully battle Infiniti Coupes and other upper end coupes. BMW 3 Series are much too small for most Americans but they sell tons of them. Maybe use the platform to give Cadillac a serious new Coupe to battle the BMW 6 Series and the MB CL Series? It’s not badge engineering if you do it right guys, but do it. We only need one Camaro and with gas being where it is, its days are probably numbered…again. Buick should go away. Hate to say it, but the time has come. The market isn't the old GM playbook of Chevy/Pontiac/Olds/Buick/Caddy its Scion/Toyota/Lexus. Yes Buick is big in China, so leave it big there. The market is totally different there so kill it here, however, start investing more into Caddy in China as well, to ensure it stays the Premium World Brand. This is business and GM is losing! Cadillac should have the Enclave, give the Lucerne to Chevy as a Caprice and kill the LaCrosse as the sole platform now that the Grand Prix is dead. The LaCrosse replacement should be delayed and improved, and be the car slotted between the CTS and whatever is replacing the STS/DTS. That replacement car should battle and better the new 7Series,LS460 and S-Class and also be stretched and outfitted with everything on earth to be GM's upper end car. Cadillac also needs a sub CTS car. I personally drive an E-Class, but if gas goes to $8.00 a gallon I’ll still want a nice car and BMW has the 1 Series and others will follow. Why shouldn’t it be a Cadillac, and why shouldn’t Cadillac lead? Saturn should be a clone of all things GM Europe and nothing US. Make it the unique brand it was created to be and quit robbing Chevy. Cars like the Sky should be Pontiac Leman’s or Tempests. Saab should be sold to Tata too as it is only sucking resources. Most development is not coming from Saab. Hummer, change its image as its not costing you that much. Make all their vehicles Hybrids and make it the Enviro-friendly off roader. See nature and climb mountains, “cleanly”. Come on guys, America is rooting for you. Also you need to find Bob’s successor, may I recommend Ed Peper!
     
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  5. I'm glad to see others here are thinking along the same lines with respect to GM and what it should do with its divisions. but here is my take on it. I think it would be a shame to see GM's Hummer division get dropped from the line-up. I think it should be revamped to include higher MPG engines line Diesels or Hybrids. I'm sure GM is working on a dual-mode hybrid configurations to install in all its trucks/SUV's, similar to what they have done for the Chevy Tahoe. A Hummer H2 with 6.0L v8 dual mode hybrid would greatly increase the MPG for the H2. A similar arrangement for the H3 would be nice but both the H2 and H3 might need a redesign to fit the much more complex hybrid drivetrain. I think GM is able to provide a hardcore 4x4 capable SUV's as well as a much better MPG rating. They proved they could do it with the Tahoe. The next step would be installing Diesel engines into those Hummers or Diesel hybrids. Imagine the increase in the MPG's if GM is able to package a system like that? GM also needs to seriously reduce the weight of the next generation Hummers. They can't be 5,000 or 6,000 LBS monsters anymore. Also, they can't be too boxy. Their shape has large impact on their low MPG's. Hummer division should remain a special purpose 4x4 division with very high luxury content and hardcore 4x4 abilities. As far as the other GM divisions, I think Chevy should be GM's frugal and high volume division. GM should not be selling a $50,000 Tahoe or Suburban! Those should be reserved for the GMC division. Chevy should do high value, family oriented cars/Crossovers/trucks (the Corvette is the only exception here due to its legendary name and status). They should keep prices low. GMC should be GM's 4x4 Luxury Truck/SUV division with more luxury AWD than 4x4 ability! GMC trucks should start where Chevy trucks top out. Cadillac should do what it's doing today. Things seem to be working just fine for them. They just need to figure out what to do with the SRX and the STS/DTS. They need a good flagship car to go head to head with the Lexus LS460 in terms of luxury and quality. The CTS have showed that GM can do it but they need to take things to the next level with the STS/DTS replacement! I agree that Caddy needs to baby caddy. A small coup/sedan to compete with Bimmer's 1 series or Infinitis(Pontiac needs a lower end version of the same car). Pontiac needs to be GM's sporty division. GM has done that already to some extent with the G8 GT and the Solstice. The G8 needs to compete with sport sedans like the Nissan Altima/Maxima SE and others in that price range and not be compared with the Bimmer 3 or 5 series! So instead of having a Chevy SS trim, GM should leave those out and carry a Pontiac equivalent car with sporty features. If buyers can get a sporty chevy, having a sporty Pontiac is really redundant ( I agree with the naming convention at GM. Please bring back some exciting names instead of just meaningless letters). Buick is kind of a tricky deal. They are very popular in China so I'm thinking GM should phase out Buicks in North America and keep them only for Import purposes to Asia and Middle East regions. Saturn is doing the right thing by leveraging Opel/European platforms to stock its line-up. But having the Sky while Pontiac has the Solstice is redundant. GM needs to consolidate those cars into one to minimize parts and increase volume. Saturn needs to take the lead for GM on their quest to go GREEN both in terms of high MPG engines and environmentally safe material and manufacturing processes just like what Subaru is doing. GM should get Saturn a station wagon to compete with the Subaru Forester and attract the "yuppy" crowd. Also, cars like the Vibe should be Saturns. The Aura should be Malibu's Hybrid counterpart or something along those lines.I think Saab needs to be dropped out or sold back to Europe. GM doesn't need Saab anymore and let Europe take it back and figure out what to do with it.
     
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  6. I'd merge GMC and Hummer, they seem to be in much the same market place. Keep Buick as Chinese brand name only, if GM revives in the US then maybe bring it back to the US.
    SAAB has some new product on the way, I'd keep it though as a Europe only brand. It could work as a Europe car company but I would give it 3 years, if it doesn't double volume, kill it.
    Saturn should be a major focus for GM. It should be hign MPG brand with a focus on technology not price. Hybrids are only an interim solution so I wouldn't put all eggs in one basket there. The Volt should be a Saturn product.
    Pontiac is difficult. Get the product right and who knows. I'd keep it as a pure sports division and not try and have full spectrum of vehicles. No vans, no SUV's. Think G-8, G-8 sports truck and sports car based on Camaro (G-8 underpinnings anyway) and maybe a smaller mid-size car.
    I'd have only three types of Dealers though: Chevrolet-Pontiac-Hummer, Saturn (or Saturn-SAAB if you have SAAB in US) and Cadillac (Cadiallac - Buick if you keep Buick in the US).
     
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  7. I think I agree with xjug & Eddie. They definitely need to get rid of Buick here in the US and keep it going in China if they love it that much. It's only three cars for goodness sake. Re-badge the Chinese Buick Park Avenue here as the Chevy Caprice, just like it is in the Middle East. Send the Enclave to Cadillac, and take that LaCrosse thing out to a field and shoot it. Perhaps the Lucerne can be something within Cadillac if not taken to the field with the LaCrosse. Saturn seems to be doing well with the re-badged Opel models so they can be spared. Pontiac needs to get real and stop comparing themselves to BMW. Who the hell cares if the G8 is cheaper than a Bimmer. The guy that's considering a G8 is definitely not considering a Bimmer. I really never understood the point of GMC trucks; aren't they just Chevy trucks with red GMC letters on the grille instead of the Chevy bowtie? I own a Saab and I love it, and Saab is the only brand that kept me loyal to GM as my previous two cars were Olds Aleros, but I think it's time to sell Saab back to Europe. Saturn seems to be doing well with the Euro cars. Although I highly doubt anyone is going to want to take Saab except for Tata after getting a great deal on their purchase of Jaguar.
     
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  8. How could I forget Hummer! Do something productive with it as it's still relatively new. Don't just kill it off because it's slow. Make some hybrid trucks from there. There's always going to be a market for big people movers but that market is obviously smaller now.
     
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  9. This is such an obvious "no-brainer" to everyone except GM's senior management!
    Buick (emphasis on "ick!") should have been dumped years ago. Very few, if any, buyers under the age of 50 even give Buick a passing a thought...including those shopping at Buick's competitors. Cadillac, on the other hand, is ready to serve all would-be Buick buyers still exist....and aren't on their deathbed.
    Saturn is a joke, especially taking into account the history of the brand. What was a noble attempt to be a different kind of car company is now simply another exercise in GM badge engineering. Take the Astra and give it to Chevrolet to replace the wretched Aveo as their entry-level car. Take the Aura's rear-end and let Chevy use it to fix the Malibu's only real styling issue- that ugly butt!
    Hummer should already be long gone....and GMC is yet another redundant and useless franchise.
    Chevrolet and Cadillac could move just as many vehicles with far less overhead and redundancies/duplication of efforts.
    Saab and Cadillac could coexist in dealerships quite well, as long as competing products were limited. Pontiac was viable as the performance division before gas prices skyrocketed to current levels, but now I'm not so sure. The only Pontiac worth saving is the G8- would make a great replacement for the Impala. The FWD full-size next-gen Impala would just need a new name....or an old one, just not Caprice!
     
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  10. Get rid of Hummer.
    Get rid of Saab or merge with Opel.
    Merge Pontiac, Buick, and Saturn. Merge or use GMC as a truck brand for those dealers. Whichever name you keep, make Buick badges to slap onto anything for China.
    Keep Chevy and Cadillac as is.
     
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  11. I would lose Saab, Hummer, GMC and Buick.
    Would anyone want the Hummer brand?
    GMC? Make the Denali a trim level for the Chevy's, Nobody would know the difference. Maybe even a Pontiac truck?
    Sell the name to an Asian company (Hyundai/Kia, maybe?) for some quick cash. The name Buick nolonger has any value here in the USA.

    Maybe GM and Ford could get one company to buy both of the Swedish brands...
     
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  12. GM, Pontiac and Buick should be eliminated immediately. Saab/Saturn could still make a go at it as 'alternative" brands. (GMs version of Saturn) Saab/Saturn should be the tactical brands. responding to the competition's offerings quickly. This brand is the front of the spear so to speak. It doesn't necessarily need to make cars that make a profit on volume, but should get product out there. Different powerplants, and new ideas.
    Pontiac, goodbye, it never was what the media made it out to be.
    Buick, make them for the Chinese, better yet, sell the division to Shangai Motors.
    GMC, I wrote five years ago about trucks and heard nothing but negative from the nutjobs out there saying gas was cheap. It will never be cheap again and we will never be as well off again.
    Chevy, Cadillac and the Saab/Saturn brand. I have said it before and I will repeat it over and over. Oh yeah, one more thing.... HOW STUPID to get rid of FIAT. Everybody involved in that decision should be fired today.
    I just bought a Malibu and am about 95% happy with it. It has promise, but is not in the same league as the Altima.
     
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  13. nice post
     
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  14. What would you think about eliminating GMC? Cut Buick, Pontiac, Sabb, and Hummer down to one model in the USA.
    Rename all merged Buick, Pontiac, and GMC dealers as Saturn centers. Close all small Saturn dealers. Also, close all Hummer and Sabb dealers and sell the remaining one model for each brand through the Saturn centers. The remaing Pontiac and Buick model will also be sold through the Saturn centers.
    Rebadge Saturn Auras, Saturn VUES/Outlook, Chevy Camaros, Cadd. CTS, Cobalt SSs, and a luxury version of the Impala SS w/5.3 V8 for the Asian market as Buicks. Call the Impala SS an Electra.
    In the USA the one remaing Buick model will be an upscale Imapala SS rebadged as an Electra with a standard 3.5 V6 and optional 5.3 V8. This model will be sold through Saturn centers for about 10 years. The base version will be priced slightly more than a base Impala. This will please the World War 2 generation.
    The one remaing Pontiac model will be the Soltice. The Saturn Sky will be cut. The Soltice will be sold through Saturn centers. If the new Camaro is a hit with babay boomers poosibly, bring back the Firebird. Make sure to have an affordable base version.
    Remember the OLDS Intrigue. If Saturn had that car in the late 1990s instead of the lame L-Series they could have at least had a car equal in sales to an Altima. Best case senerio it could have contended with the Accord and Camry as the best selling car. Don't give the new Riviera to Buick. They now sell this car in China as a Buick. Still sell the car in China as a Buick. In the USA call the car the Saturn Riviera. Possibly, if not Saturn consider giving this car to Caddilac. 2-door sport luxury coupes could come back as the yuppie thing for babay boomers.
    Should the Saturn centers fail go bankrupt and reorganize as 2 brands Chevy and Caddilac.
     
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