Merge The Brands!

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Thread: Merge The Brands!

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    GMI Contributor Premium Member Ming's Avatar
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    Merge The Brands!

    Merge The Brands!
    Editorial by Ming
    GMInsidenews.com



    "Merge the brands" The idea is nothing new. GM currently has a manager of Pontiac-Buick-GMC. But GM continues to try and make every brand capable of standing alone - giving Buick the Rainier, for instance, while GMC has a very similar vehicle in the Envoy, or giving Pontiac the Montana SV6 when Buick is also getting the Terraza. By playing to the demands of single-brand Buick / Pontiac and GMC dealerships and attempting to round out each portfolio, GM is adding more complexity that doesn't need to be there. Complexity adds cost - and time. While the Grand Prix got a redesign, the Lacrosse took longer to work out - and the Impala sat on the back burner. Someone will point to increased sales for Buick for its Rainier - but at what cost? What happens when the Envoy and Rainier need to be redesigned? Toyota, Honda, and Nissan with their 2-3 brands each can afford to put much more R&D into each vehicle than GM with its ever bloating portfolio. And according to often quoted sources around the web, Toyota and Nissan already spend a larger percentage of revenue on R&D than GM. How can GM spend less, and continue its quest of having a fully rounded brand for each dealership showroom? Answer - they can't, not without producing Badge Engineered product like the CSVs. The death of Oldsmobile was supposed to eliminate wasted expenditures, or so I thought, but now we see Oldsmobiles popping up in other brands - each demanding its own attention, time and resources.

    I say simplify the lineups, but pull the brands together. Make it a mandatory thing, and if individual brand dealers don't like it, they have a choice - adopt another "Partner brand", or face having a sparse, dedicated lineup. There should be no individual brand managers pushing for more product and more of the same offered in partner brands (Montana SV6, Rainier). They should only push for the uniqueness of each individual brand - and QUALITY over QUANTITY.

    What does this "Partner Brand" ("As my partner, you complete me") strategy accomplish? For one, it allows dealerships to have a full line-up, without each individual brand needing to have one of every type of vehicle in all segments. Pontiac has no trucks or large SUVs, but GMC provides them. Buick and GMC have no sporty cars, but Pontiac provides them. GMC and Pontiac have no cushy luxury cars, but Buick provides them. Cadillac has no compact-sized car, but Saab provides one (9-2x). The benefit is that GM does not have to spend millions of dollars restyling 5 different versions of each vehicle they make, and get blasted by the press for "badge engineering". It allows GM the opportunity to spend more on each vehicle and make them the best suited to each brand they represent. In addtion, with less models, instead of making 3 models of Bonneville, GM can axe the Bonnie and make a luxury-appointed version of the nearly same sized G8 (Grand Prix) - giving the appearance that it didn't lose as much, and playing to the segment that might still want something like the Bonneville GXP. But if they want a large, plush sedan like the base Bonneville, head next door (literally) to the Buick showroom.

    Consider Saab. GM is trying to save the brand by giving it the 9-2x, and the 9-7x. While the 9-2x is suitable for Saab's brand character, the 9-7x is a well disguised Trailblazer with the same powertrain as a Chevy. If Saab was "partnered" to Cadillac, the 9-2x would still make sense, but the 9-7x wouldn't. If you want an SUV in that general price range, get a Cadillac SRX, or an Escalade in the showroom next door. The 9-2x would also preclude the need to have a Cadillac even further down market than the CTS. Here, GM saves money by not developing the 9-7x, and potentially saves money for Cadillac with the 9-2x.

    The hard and fast rule to save GM money and time? No duplicate or too-similar product within Partner Brands - brands that cover and compliment one another.

    "Partner Brands": (other possibilities are equally acceptable, if they follow the rule of non-duplication and compliment each other)

    Cadillac, Hummer, Saab

    Pontiac, Buick, GMC

    Chevrolet
    (True stand alone brand, but can add all of the above except Buick, GMC - possibly Saturn)

    Saturn
    - requires own showroom, salespeople, but can partner with any of the above.

    1. GM makes it easier for stand-alone dealerships to add another brand to diversify their product portfolio.

    2. GM does not allow or encourage new dealerships to break from the pattern above

    Brands:

    Chevrolet - Value priced vehicles covering every vehicle type. Emphasis on volume sales. Sporty models do not match or surpass Pontiac's performance (Corvette excluded), but are priced lower.
    HUMMER - Off-Road capable SUVs / SUTs - limited to H1, H2, H3. Several variants of each. Fuel efficient diesel engine a must for H2.
    Saab - Euro-feel entry lux, small-displacement turbocharged engines. Replace 9-7's OHV V8 engine with 300+ HP Turbocharged Inline-5 and a transmission with more gears.
    Pontiac - Sporty sedans, wagons, coupes - mix of engines and platforms from other GM brands tuned for performance and priced affordably. Manual transmissions standard.
    Buick - Big, American entry-lux sedans and medium sized SUVs and crossovers, emphasis on heritage, quality, quiet, and comfort. One or two flashy designs that harken back to Buick's styling glory days of the 1940's & 50's.
    GMC - Trucks and SUVs with an emphasis on new technology, upscale trim. Emphasis on resale value with more standard amenities/features, slightly higher pricing, and lower rebates than Chevy trucks.
    Saturn - Opel designed vehicles, entry level Euro-feel. Attempts to directly compete with the leading Import brands -- no OHV engines, no 4-speed transmissions (only allowed on lowest level entry vehicle), no column mounted shifters. More VVT, Turbocharging (less supercharging), HID headlights, Hybrid engine technology, 6-speed manual transmissions. Saturn is the odd brand out. It must not attempt to make a full lineup, but needs its own showroom because of its unique sales strategy.

    Eliminate: (Some of this has already come to pass since I wrote this in 2004)

    Cadillac: None
    HUMMER: None
    Saab: 9-7x, unless it is made more like a Saab (no trucky V8s).
    Pontiac: Bonneville, Sunfire, Aztek, Montana (Add Solstice and Lux-level G8)
    Buick: Rainier
    GMC: Near identical pricing and packaging with Chevy trucks.
    Saturn: Relay (unless given a much more suitable powertrain)


    This simplification is absolutely needed to hold back the tide of better competiton. Consider this (SOURCE):

    Merrill Lynch auto analyst John Casesa expects Ford and GM will continue trailing Japanese, Korean and European automakers in replenishing their model lineups.

    Over the next four years, Casesa estimates GM and Ford will replace 66 percent of the vehicles they sell, compared with a 93 percent replacement rate at Toyota, a 99 percent rate at Honda and a 141 percent rate for the Korean carmakers.
    GM cannot continue the trend of going from brand to brand, infusing hundreds of millions in each, then moving on to the next brand. It worked for Cadillac, but how many brands are left in the GM lineup before GM can return to once again focus on Cadillac? Having less brand divisions might allow GM to match the short redesign cycles of the top Japanese automakers, instead of revamping each brand every decade or so.

    My plan potentially cuts the number of "divisions" in half (From 8 to 4), and doubles the effect of GM's research and development. That has to be a good thing, and I hope that GM considers it.

    Last edited by Ming; 04-25-2006 at 10:18 AM.

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    3.0 Liter SIDI V6 spdwayGm's Avatar
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    I never tire of stating the following: ALL HAIL MING! ALL KNOWING and SEEING MING! Heed his Words or SUFFER!!!

    Another good one, buddy....there's a reason this site is being referenced in the print and video media.

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    3.0 Liter SIDI V6 geronimo66's Avatar
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    Nice write up, but isn't this just a restatement of what has been said a million times, and is obvious to all but the CEO's at GM.

    I sure hope Toyota expands their engineering here in MI.

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    Firebird Concept (the turbine one) Premium Member BigAls87Z28's Avatar
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    I disagree on most of your points Ming. I think you are combining the wrong companies.

    If you look at it, GM has pretty much 2 of the same type of theme. 2 hevy duty truck-only companies, 2 American style companies, 2 performance luxury companies, and 2 unique comanies. This is how I think they should be combined

    Caddy and Pontiac
    Buick and Chevy
    Hummer and GMC
    Saab and Saturn

    This "Brother" system could work very well. Each of the companies share or should share the same company policy and ideas as well as designs.
    People going into look at a Pontiac are probably not gunna be too interestd at a Buick or GMC truck. But they might be so inclinded to trade in there GTO for a CTS or STS later on down the line.
    Chevy and Buick should define American design and comfort. Buick adds more refinement and smoothness.
    Saturn has quirky cars, and going from such a unique car, chances are that they are gunna want something quirky if they decide to go upmarket. Saab is that car maker.

    Now, Im not saying set up teh dealerships like this, but this is how they should be combined internaly in GM.

    I think GM is getting the hang of global chassis, sharing ideas across brands and countries. GM is a large company, so its always gunna be harder to do a mass-redesign then it would be for Toytoa or Honda. GM has to fight back here in the US, as well as keep up with everyone else across the board, especialy over in Europe and now China which is becoming a powerhouse. GM has got there foot in the door with Buicks and Caddys.
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    Originally posted by spdwayGm@Sep 8 2004, 05:11 PM
    I never tire of stating the following: ALL HAIL MING! ALL KNOWING and SEEING MING! Heed his Words or SUFFER!!!

    Another good one, buddy....there's a reason this site is being referenced in the print and video media.

    :drevil:
    Tito needs to get you some tissue to wipe the doo off your nose...

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    Originally posted by spdwayGm@Sep 8 2004, 05:11 PM
    I never tire of stating the following: ALL HAIL MING! ALL KNOWING and SEEING MING! Heed his Words or SUFFER!!!

    Another good one, buddy....there's a reason this site is being referenced in the print and video media.

    :drevil:
    Dude lay off...
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    You make a valid point, but isn't it a small nit to pick??

    I mean, when was the last time that you heard of JUST a Chevy dealership, or JUST a GMC dealership? I haven't for a long time.

    I mean, I work at Quirk Chevrolet Cadillac Saab, and accross the street is Varney GMC Pontiac Isuzu.

    You aren't suggesting that the brands be combined into larger groups does make sense, but unless you change the names of the brand, eliminate some names, or do something else drastic, I don't see the point in the merger. Obviously, most dealerships already sell more than one brand. So I think that the only real thing that you are asking for is to eliminate competing models from different GM brands. This would have to be done cautiously, because not everyone who wants to buy a Lacrosse will opt for a G6 if the Lacrosse if killed off. ( I would, but I'm not everyone) GM does need to cut costs, but the most obvious overlap in their lineup is the full-size pickups. They aren't going to merge them, so the rest aren't likely to merge either. I think that GM just needs to kill off Saturn, cut Buick down to a few models, and sell them beside Chevrolets. Like you suggested. Most places that sell Pontiacs already sell GMCs I don't think that a merging the brands isn't the answer, but realigning them may be the answer

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    4.4 Liter Supercharged Northstar dav305z's Avatar
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    I mean, when was the last time that you heard of JUST a Chevy dealership, or JUST a GMC dealership? I haven't for a long time.
    That's exactly his point. All the brands sell right near eachother anyway, and the profit all goes to one company, GM, so why do they each need a lineup with every kind of car for every type of person?
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    GMI Contributor Premium Member Ming's Avatar
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    Originally posted by bigals87z28@Sep 8 2004, 12:31 PM
    I think you are combining the wrong companies. 

    If you look at it, GM has pretty much 2 of the same type of theme.  2 hevy duty truck-only companies, 2 American style companies, 2 performance luxury companies, and 2 unique comanies.  This is how I think they should be combined

    Caddy and Pontiac
    Buick and Chevy
    Hummer and GMC
    Saab and Saturn

    This "Brother" system could work very well.  Each of the companies share or should share the same company policy and ideas as well as designs.
    If your version here = a well rounded out brother brand, in other words, if GM can lay off giving HUMMER/GMC a sport sedan, or Saturn/Saab a giant SUV, because dealers clamor for one, then I agree.

    Any means to saving R&D time and money and focusing on fewer, and better models works for me. I just used Pontiac/Buick/GMC because GM has grouped them that way.

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    7.0 Liter LS7 V8 dindak's Avatar
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    Relay should have been an Opel van. Chevy and Pontiac should use the same platforms / engines but be very different much like the G6 and Malibu. Buick and Caddy should use the same platforms / engines and again be very different which is already the case. The SRX should be the base of the 9-7, not the Envoy.

    There is too much direct badge engineereing and it should stop for sure. G6 and Malibu type differentials should be a model going forward.

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    6.2 Liter LS3 V8 surferdude00711's Avatar
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    so will saturn be getting rebadged opels?

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    I wish Saturn would be getting rebadged Opels.

    Domestic Automakers seem to think there is little to no market in the U.S. for hatchbacks...or for cars with 'entry level' european styling. Personally, I would like to buy a car that looks different than anything else on the road, and at this point I'd LOVE to have a small 2-3 door hatchback by GM!

    Instead of doing this..what does saturn give us? Basically cars that can just as easily be sold as Chevrolets.

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    I beileve ming and bigal both made good points. i think both would work but i would get rid of Saturn and maybe hummer. Now i like hummers but eather cobine gmc and hummer or when the h1, h2, h3, h4? gets redsigned replace it with a gmc model that is just as capable off road and tough styling. That way you could have some hummerlike vehicles and some that aren't as capible but still trucky. That way they could attract all sorts of suv buyers from the mederate to the extreme. if gmc and hummer were one division if the h2 sales continued to decline other vehicles could offset that.
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    Originally posted by dindak@Sep 8 2004, 07:03 PM
    Chevy and Pontiac should use the same platforms / engines but be very different much like the G6 and Malibu. Buick and Caddy should use the same platforms / engines and again be very different which is already the case. G6 and Malibu type differentials should be a model going forward.
    I agree completely with you. Personally I don't think the product overlap problem would exist if the products themselves were differentiated enough. If the world only needed one midsize sedan, why is every manufacturer building their own version? Because not everybody wants to buy a Camry. There IS room for both the Malibu and the G6, and MOST other products, as long as GM puts the same kind of differentiation into their development.

    Look at it this way. I want to buy a midsize, 4cylinder/V6 sedan from GM. Regardless of the engineering merits, I would never buy the Malibu because I don't like the looks. However, Pontiac just came out with a midsize sedan of similar size, similar price, similar powertrains, and similar almost everything else, but it LOOKS DIFFERENT. Result, GM will be getting my buisiness for a midsize sedan, whereas they wouldn't have if they only had the Malibu. And I'm certain there are millions of consumers just like me who, given good products, might not buy a Cadillac but would buy a Buick, or a Chevy over Pontiac, and so on.

    I don't think overlap is the problem, it's how GM is executing these vehicles. Four mediocre minivans/CSVs are a bad proposition any way you slice it, but two superior minivans, different enough from one another, could conquer the marketplace.

    Also, GM's "ladder" system is outdated and unsustainable. Makers are either luxury/premium or value/mass-market. Everyone stuck in the middle is finding doing business very difficult, and most are trying to move up-market to become truly premium, or they say they are but are in fact keeping prices similar to all the other mass market makers (Chrysler).

    I believe Cadillac and Buick should share platforms, engines, and most (but not all) vehicles, and attack the lusury segment from two different sides. Cadillac to be more sporty, edgy, with avante garde styling, while Buick can focus more on luxury, comfort, with more sensuous lines. Same with Pontiac and Chevy. Share platforms, engines, and most vehicles, with Pontiacs tuned to be sportier, and the styling to be drastically different.

    Saab and Hummer are great brands to address truly unique and quirky niches, such as premium, European hatchbacks, and massive SUVs of course. Kill Saturn, there's no need for it since it lost it's original purpose as a unique compact car maker. It sells a minivan now, for God's sake.

    This is most controversial, I know, but I would merge GMC with Potiac. The market is increasingly shifting from truck-based vehicles anyway, and even GMC is getting a unibody Lambda vehicle. What's the purpose of a truck brand when it's future vehicles will be unitbody/car based. For those of you who say Pontiac doesn't need or shouldn't have SUVs/crossovers/sportwagons, looks at Nissan. In my estimation it's a very sporty oriented manufacturer but it has both SUVs and crossovers. Why can't Pontiac have a Murano, for instance?

    And as the market shifts, it will be easier to adjust products. If demand for truck based products falls, for instance, GM can concentrate all their truck offerings at Chevy, and leave Pontiac with only sporty, car-based "truck" products. But if GM also has GMC, it's almost forced to give them a similar vehicle too, because otherwise the brand would have "holes" in its portfolio. The Colorado/Canyon is a perfect cas in point. Only the Colorado was scheduled for production, but GMC dealers whined and complained until they slapped a Canyon badge on it too.

    Just my opinions. Feel free to tear them up. :type:

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    I'v always loved those GMC commercials where they tout all the hi tech stuff "only available on GMC, professional grade..." and then in the fine print "excludes other GM models". If GMC is going to be so hi-tech, then why can you get all the GMC "professional grade" options on a Chevy?

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