Frugal Shopper: GM Unloading Pontiac, Saturn Vehicles

December 29, 2009
2009 Pontiac G3

2009 Pontiac G3

If you've been on the lookout for a new car but you're a little short on cash, General Motors may have a deal for you. In a clever shell game that should pay off nicely for consumers, the company is offering dealers $7,000 for every Pontiac and Saturn vehicle that they move to their rental-vehicle or service-vehicle fleets. That cash, in turn, will get passed on to shoppers who purchase from those fleets as discounts of up to 46% off the MSRP.

In making this pitch to dealers, GM is trying is to vet showrooms of units from its major shuttered marques. As GM spokesperson Tom Henderson said, "Our goal is to provide these dealers with another tool to help them reduce their inventories of noncore brands.... This in turn will help us move more quickly to focus on our Buick, Chevy, GMC and Cadillac brands." Earlier this decade, it took GM over three years to dump its stock of discontinued Oldsmobile vehicles, but with offers like this, GM could sell off its Pontiac and Saturn units much faster.

As attractive as this offer may seem, however, there are a couple of downsides. Technically, the vehicles sold under this plan will be listed as "used", since dealers will first buy them from GM, then re-sell them to consumers. Furthermore, because Pontiac and Saturn have been discontinued, the resale value on these units will take a pretty major hit. On the other hand, a $7,000 discount means that an essentially new Pontiac G3 with an MSRP of $14,335 would go for less than $8,000. Sounds like an offer that could be tough to refuse.

Note: GM has been offering $6,500 discounts (or 0% financing) on new vehicles for some time. That deal can't be combined with the $7,000 offer describe above. Sorry, Charlie.


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