Saturn: FIXED... Next?
April 14, 2006
The recent introduction of the Saturn Sky, Aura, Outlook, Sky Red Line, and Vue Green Line should pretty much give notice to everyone that Saturn is just about revitalized. The whole idea of brand revitalization started in around 2002 with Cadillac; when GM invested several billion into the then damaged division. That exact same thing has happened nearly overnight with Saturn, which direly needed exciting new product. Now one question remains…who’s next?
In some aspects one could say that GMC will be completely revitalized by 2007. Being that half of the brand’s lineup consist of GMT-900 products; which are of course all new. Not to mention the early-2007 arrival of their new Lambda-based Acadia crossover. That would leave the Envoy as the only product that lacks a recent redesign, which will be happening for the 2008 model-year. While any new product is good, GMC doesn’t exactly need revitalized; at least not as much as other divisions.
When you think about GM brands that need revitalized the first two that come to mind are Buick and Pontiac. There are a few products out of the two divisions that are doing very well, but as a whole; the neither division is doing well. The problem with Buick is rather simple; they have been blessed with the “old people car” image. GM has GOT to give some perception-changing products to Buick soon if they wish to overcome that. To my surprise the new Lucerne is actually starting to change Buick’s perception, but it’s going to take more than a G-Body based sedan to fully change it. Without a doubt the upcoming Enclave crossover will really start to engage some perception changing at Buick. It’s classy, well-appointed, and stylish. I do wish that GM would have found someway to green-light the beautiful Velite hard-top convertible concept. That car would really be an overnight success for Buick. Unfortunately it seems that the Velite will simply go down in history as a concept car only.
To be honest, I’m worried about Pontiac. If worse comes to worse at GM (which currently seems debatable) and a division has to be dropped; I think Pontiac would be the one to go. Buick has China to keep them from getting the axe, as it would be suicide for GM to kill Buick when it is their flagship brand in China. Pontiac on the other hand doesn’t have any good business case to justify their existence. The future of Pontiac holds; a new GTO, RWD G8, and eventually a new G6. That’s not a bad group of new product, but the recent announcement of a rebadged Cobalt for the US ruins it all; making me think that Pontiac is still not serious about being a performance brand. If Pontiac wants to survive, they are going to have to be a serious performance division, otherwise Saturn will eat them alive.
To wrap it up; by looking at proposed future product plans, it looks as if the Pontiac-GMC-Buick lineup is next in line for GM revitalization. This makes sense considering that GM seriously wants the three divisions to be combined, but each catering to a different market niche. Let the revitalization begin.