Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

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Thread: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

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    Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac
    March 29, 2005: 4:17 PM EST
    By Chris Isidore, CNN/Money senior
    money.cnn.com



    NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Pontiac and Buick could become the stars of their own reality show in the coming years: Survivor GM.

    That's because the two mid-level brands of the nation's No. 1 automaker look like they're on the bubble. At an analysts' conference last week, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said both lines are "damaged" and that dropping one of the venerable names -- both date back more than a century -- was possible unless there's a turnaround.

    Lutz said closing a brand, as it did with Oldsmobile after the 2003 model year, was something that GM hoped to avoid. But he said that, if the carmaker's brands don't hit sales targets, "then we would have to take a look at a phase-out. I hope we wouldn't have to do that. What we've got to do is keep the brands we've got."

    GM officials have tried to backtrack somewhat on Lutz's comment, saying there are no plans to drop a brand and that he was only answering a question about a hypothetical. They say they're confident the brands will get the investment needed to grow.



    "There's no strength in dropping a brand," said GM spokesman Dee Allen. "Pontiac, Buick and (truck brand) GMC together are stronger than two would be. They represent different customer bases."

    But auto experts look at GM's continued slide in market share along with the financial problems caused by its current cost structure, and say the possible end of another GM brand isn't as much a surprise as the fact that a top GM executive would raise the possibility.

    "It's a signal to folks that it's going to happen," said Walter McManus, director of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation. "They're very careful not to speculate about things that aren't going to happen."
    Buick lags Pontiac in sales

    Buick had 1.8 percent of the U.S. market in 2004, just ahead of the 1.7 percent share that Oldsmobile had in 2000, when GM announced the end of that line. Pontiac had a 2.8 percent share.

    Both brands have recently had trouble attracting customers to new models that GM was hoping would give them a lift -- the Pontiac G6 and the Buick LaCrosse. Next up for the brands are the Solstice roadster from Pontiac and the Lucerne sedan from Buick.

    But even the brands' advocates admit that getting potential buyers to look at these cars is a challenge.

    "The G6, when we get people to test drive it, they love it," said Conrad Darby, a Florida Buick and Pontiac dealer. "We're just not getting sufficient people in to test drive it. And I think the Lucerne is going to be a home run. It's a gorgeous automobile. It's the problem we have with the rest of them. It's a four-door sedan and there are a million four-door sedans out there."

    Still the dealer groups are a powerful constituency within GM, and dropping either Buick or Pontiac -- which would take the livelihood away from some operators -- would be a bigger battle than dropping Oldsmobile, which was seeing much of its sales from GM employees and rental car companies by the time the plug was pulled.

    "I don't think Buick will go away," said Frank Bellavia, a Long Island, N.Y., dealer and president of the Buick Dealer Council. "The dealers do well. What we need is just more product."

    But many experts think it's a tough road ahead for both brands, and that the end of the line could be near for at least one.

    In fact, McManus said there's arguments to be made for GM dropping both brands. However, other analysts said it's unlikely that GM would want to drop both and have no mid-level brands in the space between Chevrolet and Cadillac.

    Right now, many see Buick as running somewhat behind, with a somewhat older customer base to go with its smaller share.

    "If I had to bet the farm, I'd say Buick will be the one that goes," said Mike Chung, auto analyst with Edmunds.com.

    Chung said the weakness both brands have attracting new buyers is balanced by the strength both brands have in customer loyalty. That will make it difficult for GM to drop either brand with the hopes they would be able to hang onto the Buick or Pontiac customers with their remaining lines.

    "I wouldn't rush to get rid of either line because of the costs associated with the move," said Chung. "But if GM's share continues to drop and gets down near 21 percent, I see them taking steps to phase out Buick."

    FULL Article Here: http://money.cnn.com/2005/03/29/Auto...uture/?cnn=yes


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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    I would bet Buick to be the one to go. With Zeta cancelled, the LaCrosse and Lucerne won't be enough to carry them forward.

    While GM is furiously denying Lutz's comments, Lutz has been around too long to unintentionally make a statement like he did.

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    i hate to say it but i think buick would go. performance sells that would help pontiac. sadly buick sat back designing cars for older people. but nowadays older people want cars that are associated with youth. i love buick, they built some great cars in the last 100 years but something has got to give for the survival of GM.

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    GM would probably say bye to Buick since they only have FWD cars for now and what about their SUV class? Lutz didn't say anything about that for awhile. Do they even have plans for an SUV?

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    Even though I am a huge Pontiac fan, I would guess that Pontiac would be cut first. Sales of the LeSabre are strong enough to be a huge consideration, assuming that the Lucerne sales are similar or even better. Also, Buick fills an important near-luxury type of role (admittedly mostly among older buyers) between Chevy and Cadillac that would be left wide-open. I could be wrong, and I hope I am. Hopefully the G6 and new GXP models will help.

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    yeah, the new products are the Solstice for Pontiac, and the Lucerne for Buick.... which one do we think is going to create more excitement? if this is true, buy your Buick while you still can. i don't see much reason for them to stay.

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    Buick's vehicle base is looking a lot like Olds did right before they axed it. They invested heavily in three vehicles, overpriced them, and were not competitive initially on powertrains or features. GM faulted the brand when they should have faulted the cars.

    Lacrosse - A great car, but on an old platform, with an old base powertrain. GM may wrongly conclude - it should sell and since its not, the brand has no hope. The car is nowhere near best in class, and overpriced at MSRP.

    Lucerne - Again, a great looking car, but by most accounts based on specs would lose in a comparison to the 05 Avalon, and its not even out yet. 3800 and 4T65E is just wrong in this car. Time to let the die hards go - what else will they buy if there is no 3800? I bet they'll accept the 3.6HF. The V8 is also underpowered. The interior looks great, but this must be priced under the Avalon by a grand or two to sell well with the 3.6 - It's like they want bad reviews using the 3800 and a 4 speed - like they are asking for it when its competitor has almost 100 more horsepower!

    Terazza - Will it get the 3.6HF? or the 3900. Will GM even attempt to compete with the toyohondas? Let alone exceed them as this premium brand should?

    Rendevous - How long will this shoulder on with a crappy engine - again, some HF engine ought to be standard - and the interior is looking bad. Will they bring it up to RX standards, or even close?

    Lets not talk about Ranier - I mean it will be redone soon. It's just looking alot like when the Intrigue came out - and this time they aren't even best in class. The intrigue was for a year. C&D put it ahead of camry and accord. Buick needs the technology to compete and a bold design image. Stop playing into 80 year olds ideas of style, go after the 40 year olds as the seniors will have to accept it - what else will they buy?

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    Another one bites the dust.

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    The author mentions it is unlikely both would go because then there would be no car line to slot between Chevy and Cadillac. They seem to forget to mention Saturn, and it appears GM is slotting Saturn almost Exactly between Cadillac and Chevy.

    While the new styling of Saturn is not "BMW" sporty or "Lexus like Luxury", it appears to be bridging that gap. The new Saturn Sky is basically a Solstice moved slightly upscale. The Saturn Aura, also, is basically a Pontiac G6 Sedan with some more luxury touches and equipment.

    IF GM were to eliminate both Buick and Pontiac, Saturn could be the bridge between Chevy and Cadillac (if not in tradition, at least in terms of it's product line).

    In addition, if GM decides to just Ax Pontiac OR Buick, but not both...Saturn easily slips into the slot of the brand that is Eliminated. If Pontiac goes...Saturn becomes the "sporty" brand just above Chevy. If Buick Goes, they become the 'near luxury, Acura clone' below Cadillac.
    Last edited by mjd1001; 03-29-2005 at 04:14 PM.

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    Well it is easy to revamp pontiac - a line of brutal muscle cars - Buick isnt so easily defined in the consumers perception - but my guess is it costs money to jetison brands altogether - so it wont happen anytime soon - The Gm brass need to shut their mouth on any speculation of this until it is imminent-

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    I say Pontiac would go, its products are terribly watered-down.

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    Pontiac-People who want an edgey sporty style who have the range of economy to performance cars like say base g6 to solstice to gto Buick-People who want a soft sedate conservative look and there are people turning 60 everyday who have retirement money (but gm want to target way younger audience). Saturn-people who like a quarkey car (the type that might buy a scion xb in such)who are concerned to be hip but dont care about performance, who could care less what an ls2 is or in the matter could care less of what a torque converter is too(majority of people) i dunno why they dont consider saturn to go, since cobalt is covering ion line and if chevy/pontiac could absorb together 2 or three low cost models and then saturn has no purpose, also saying in that saturn and saab too are selling numbers way under what pontiac and buick are saab if they (saab) would adapt 4wd i would consider it being 40k worth

    My lineup would be keeping pontiac (them cutting vibe, montana, sv6 and not releasing torrent
    Cut buicks options of cars keep lucerne (market more towards china etc)
    Sell off saab (dont kill it)
    if things get down kill saturn it would be the equal to what dc did by killing off eagle and late model plymouths the neon and voyager plymouths not the cudas and roadrunners, people would eventually move on as other lines could absorb their models
    Last edited by FireFox89; 03-29-2005 at 04:43 PM.
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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    i really think GM is retarded, if they knew that new products or even a refreshed version every coupled of years could boost their products to sell better. how long did they think the bonneville could last or their pickups without a major refresh?

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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    Quote Originally Posted by tookie
    I say Pontiac would go, its products are terribly watered-down.
    You could say that about any gm line except chevy and caddy it seems pontiac is the only one that catches all the complaints about rebadging even though it happens throughout the gm line you could throw up arguement in deed within every model
    Buick is susposed to ride softer then a chevy -it rides the same
    saab is susposed to be european engineering when its getting it chassis from subaru when it con design something different
    too exactly pontiac says perfromance but well always know that a caddy is more performace
    Last edited by FireFox89; 03-29-2005 at 04:58 PM.
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    Re: Survivor: Buick vs. Pontiac

    Pontiac is gone.

    Buick has too much potential because of China, being the second best brand in reliability behind Lexus, and #5 in initial quality, it fills the gap between Cadillac and Chevy nicely.

    Just lay off the plastic interiors....and fill the exterior with chrome looking plastic trim, and maybe a rebadged Monte Carlo called the Grand National......but that makes too much sense!

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