Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

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Thread: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

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    Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Link: http://www.autonews.com/article.cms?articleId=53859

    - Pontiac: GM's party pooper.

    - Dealers blame car-heavy lineup, me-too products



    By Jamie LaReau / Automotive News / July 18, 2005

    DETROIT -- Last month, Pontiac missed the party.

    During General Motors' blowout summer sale, seven GM brands enjoyed sales increases, ranging from Buick's 36.4 percent to Hummer's incredible 210.5 percent. Pontiac sales fell 14.1 percent.

    Company officials blame the decline on a decision to cut fleet sales. But disappointed dealers blame Pontiac's vague brand image, a car-heavy lineup and me-too vehicles that resemble other GM products.

    "The product is too much like what GM already has," says an Ohio dealer who asked to not be identified. "It's still a good-quality product; it's just not as exciting as it used to be."

    Pontiac also depends heavily on car sales, with division partner GMC getting most of the trucks. Trucks were big sellers in June, but Pontiac could not take advantage.

    Pontiac has struggled all year.

    In a low point for Pontiac, GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz implied that it was a "damaged brand" in comments to analysts at the New York auto show in March.

    Through June, total Pontiac sales are down 17 percent compared with the first six months of last year.

    3-prong strategy

    John Larson, general manager of Buick, Pontiac and GMC, says there are three key elements in the plan to rebuild Pontiac's image and its sales. GM will:

    1. Promote its channel strategy to group Pontiac, Buick and GMC brands into single dealerships. To avoid overlapping products, GM will eliminate vehicles from the three brands.

    2. Trim Pontiac's aging product lineup. Weak sellers such as the Bonneville sedan, Aztek sport wagon and Sunfire compact die after the 2005 model year.

    3. Revive Pontiac's traditional performance image with the Solstice roadster, which debuts this fall. Pontiac also gets the Torrent sport wagon, which is based on the Chevrolet Equinox.

    Pontiac executives say retail sales for June actually rose 17 percent compared with June 2004, Larson says. He blames lower fleet sales for last month's sales decline.

    Larson says Pontiac sold 126,309 retail units through June, compared with 145,183 in the first six months of last year - a 13 percent drop. GM would not release retail and fleet breakdowns for its other brands.

    'The toughest sale on earth'

    Some frustrated dealers say the brand needs better marketing.

    "Pontiac right now is the toughest sale on earth," says a Florida dealer who asked not be identified.

    "We can't even get anyone to consider a Pontiac. If you get them to drive a G6, they come back impressed, but I don't think we've ever had anyone come in and ask about the G6."

    A Detroit-area dealer who asked to not be named says Pontiac buyers tend to prefer trendy new products. So that buyer will cross-shop Pontiac with rivals such as Mazda, Honda, Toyota and even Chevrolet, regardless of incentives.

    Larson says sales will look brighter in the 2006 model year, when Pontiac will have its full G6 lineup.

    G6 sales have been hampered because the division is only selling the sedan with a 3.5-liter V-6. This fall it will add the 2.4-liter four-cylinder coupe and sedan as entry-level models, which should boost volume. And a 3.9-liter V-6 GTP performance version also is scheduled to appear in the fall.

    Full Article: http://www.autonews.com/article.cms?articleId=53859

    Last edited by Ming; 07-18-2005 at 07:34 AM.

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    If the Torrent wasn't such a blatant rebadge of the Equinox, I'd feel better about that part of their strategy.

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    No volume leader Sunfire replacement in the U.S. is the biggest reason. Simple as that.

    Torrent, Solstice and G6 base, coupe and drop top should help though but I think the Pursuit should be released in the U.S. It's selling well up here and the Torrent is a rebadge anyway so why not get volumes up?

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    And a 3.9-liter V-6 GTP performance version also is scheduled to appear in the fall.
    If they had offered this car from the start and not just the one flavor for everyone V6 it would be the car I would be driving right now instead of the Mazda6 I bought back in January.

    Fred

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Why is GM taking so long with the different variants? I understand launching the coup and convertable at a different time. But waiting almost a year to launch the other sedan variants sounds like bad planning.

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    I think Pontiacs current sales decline needs to be put into perspective.

    1)Prior to June, GM stopped production of Pontiacs highest selling model, the Grand Am. Even though only the coupe was still being produced in 05 it was still their best selling 2 door by far.

    2)The ancient platform Bonneville ended production to absolutely no fanfare after a 48 year consecutive model year run. It sold poorly due to lack of advertising, it's ancient platform and it was way overpriced at nearly $40K for a GXP!!

    3)The Aztek has also thankfully stopped production. While it was a actually a very useful vehicle if kept an embarassing face on the dealer lots which reflected on the entire line-up. The upcoming Torrent, even though it's a rebadge, will be much better received then the Aztek. Pontiac needs this vehicle as well as a sporty RWD wagon similiar to the Magnum.

    4)The Sunfire also ceases production very soon if it hasn't already. Even though it's another ancient platform sales are actually steady for this model as it's so affordable. Pontiac needs some sort of a cheap replacement for this vehicle, maybe the Solstice Coupe?

    5)Except for the year old G6 sedan and 2 yr old GTO, there is no new product available among the current offerings unless you include the V8 GP GXP which just came out in very limited availability.

    6)The Vibe is an attractive package and sales still seem fairly steady for the aging model but it is underpowered for a Pontiac.

    7)The 04 Grand Prix restyling is quickly growing old in the tooth. Actually released in early 03 as just an ancient W-body update the public in general seemed to prefer the 97-03 bodystyle better. Dropping the coupe version was just dumb. While it may have only acounted for 20% of sales those were VERY loyal sales in a limited coupe market. Besides it can't cost GM that much more to also offer a coupe of an existing sedan if it's intially planned in the development stages. The GP ALWAYS offered a 2 model since it introduction in 1962 why delete it? The first 4 door version only debuted in the 1990 model year.

    8)Had the G6 coupe, hardtop convertible, GTP and 4cyl versions been released shortly after the sedan, sales would be well ahead of where they currently stand and the media would be calling the car a huge success when comparing #'s to the Grand Am it replaced. Instead it's been unfairly labeled a failure completely due to no body style or engine choices up till now. Thankfully the coupe is finally arriving at dealerships as well as the 4cyl and sedan GTP versions.

    9)The GTO has also been unfairly blasted by nearly everyone EXCEPT those that actually drive this car. This is far and away the best Pontiac(maybe GM overall?) available today. Shipping delays, dealer markups and a winter launch hurt it's initial sales but now it is on track to meet production #'s and availability is currently severely limited nationwide. Pontiac needs this low production halo vehicle but I believe it should be firmly priced at @ $29,995 so they can tout the fact that it's far and away the best value performance car under $30K in the known universe. The is truly a fantastic automobile and yes I do own one!

    10)Does Pontiac really need a mid-van CSV? I could understand it if they truly offered a real performace/sporty version but c'mon white letter tires and a 3.5 engine just doen't make it exciting. At least the 3.9 is coming.


    Once the Solstice and Torrent are released this fall and ALL versions of the G6 are on the lots Pontiac will be much improved. By then the Aztec, Bonneville, Grand Am, old Montana and Sunfire should all be fading memories.
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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Quote Originally Posted by mantis662
    Why is GM taking so long with the different variants? I understand launching the coup and convertable at a different time. But waiting almost a year to launch the other sedan variants sounds like bad planning.
    I don't think the engines were ready - the other application for the 2.4L, the Cobalt, hasn't received it for the 2005 MY either. And the 3.9L... well, that seems to only be showing up for 2006 vehicles, too.

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Quote Originally Posted by VivienM
    I don't think the engines were ready - the other application for the 2.4L, the Cobalt, hasn't received it for the 2005 MY either. And the 3.9L... well, that seems to only be showing up for 2006 vehicles, too.
    Makes sense. Take the extra time and get it right the first time.

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Quote Originally Posted by tripowergto
    I think Pontiacs current sales decline needs to be put into perspective.

    1)Prior to June, GM stopped production of Pontiacs highest selling model, the Grand Am. Even though only the coupe was still being produced in 05 it was still their best selling 2 door by far.

    2)The ancient platform Bonneville ended production to absolutely no fanfare after a 48 year consecutive model year run. It sold poorly due to lack of advertising, it's ancient platform and it was way overpriced at nearly $40K for a GXP!!

    3)The Aztek has also thankfully stopped production. While it was a actually a very useful vehicle if kept an embarassing face on the dealer lots which reflected on the entire line-up. The upcoming Torrent, even though it's a rebadge, will be much better received then the Aztek. Pontiac needs this vehicle as well as a sporty RWD wagon similiar to the Magnum.

    4)The Sunfire also ceases production very soon if it hasn't already. Even though it's another ancient platform sales are actually steady for this model as it's so affordable. Pontiac needs some sort of a cheap replacement for this vehicle, maybe the Solstice Coupe?

    5)Except for the year old G6 sedan and 2 yr old GTO, there is no new product available among the current offerings unless you include the V8 GP GXP which just came out in very limited availability.

    6)The Vibe is an attractive package and sales still seem fairly steady for the aging model but it is underpowered for a Pontiac.

    7)The 04 Grand Prix restyling is quickly growing old in the tooth. Actually released in early 03 as just an ancient W-body update the public in general seemed to prefer the 97-03 bodystyle better. Dropping the coupe version was just dumb. While it may have only acounted for 20% of sales those were VERY loyal sales in a limited coupe market. Besides it can't cost GM that much more to also offer a coupe of an existing sedan if it's intially planned in the development stages. The GP ALWAYS offered a 2 model since it introduction in 1962 why delete it? The first 4 door version only debuted in the 1990 model year.

    8)Had the G6 coupe, hardtop convertible, GTP and 4cyl versions been released shortly after the sedan, sales would be well ahead of where they currently stand and the media would be calling the car a huge success when comparing #'s to the Grand Am it replaced. Instead it's been unfairly labeled a failure completely due to no body style or engine choices up till now. Thankfully the coupe is finally arriving at dealerships as well as the 4cyl and sedan GTP versions.

    9)The GTO has also been unfairly blasted by nearly everyone EXCEPT those that actually drive this car. This is far and away the best Pontiac(maybe GM overall?) available today. Shipping delays, dealer markups and a winter launch hurt it's initial sales but now it is on track to meet production #'s and availability is currently severely limited nationwide. Pontiac needs this low production halo vehicle but I believe it should be firmly priced at @ $29,995 so they can tout the fact that it's far and away the best value performance car under $30K in the known universe. The is truly a fantastic automobile and yes I do own one!

    10)Does Pontiac really need a mid-van CSV? I could understand it if they truly offered a real performace/sporty version but c'mon white letter tires and a 3.5 engine just doen't make it exciting. At least the 3.9 is coming.


    Once the Solstice and Torrent are released this fall and ALL versions of the G6 are on the lots Pontiac will be much improved. By then the Aztec, Bonneville, Grand Am, old Montana and Sunfire should all be fading memories.

    That's as good an analysis as I've seen in quite some time, especially your observation on the Grand Prix.

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Pontiac should have the G6 line(sedan, coupe, convertible), the Solstice line (roadster and coupe), a true sport sedan (rwd), the GTO, NO minivan, a unique sport oriented SUV (X5 competitor), and a sport oriented crossover. Have GT and GXP variants of all and no FWD, save for the G6 line. Succeed with this, then bring a new Firebird that shares little to nothing with another car. No more clones, no more rebadges.....EVER.

    Do this a Pontiac will live on for many decades to come.

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Quote Originally Posted by Ming
    If the Torrent wasn't such a blatant rebadge of the Equinox, I'd feel better about that part of their strategy.
    I'd love to buy a small car-based Pontiac SUV, but not with that craptastic cheap-out 3400 when GM has so many other engines available. Heck even the G6's 4 cylinder has almost as much power as that dog.

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Wow GM is dumb.

    Give Pontiac to the people at Holden. The ute and RWD seden is what Pontiac needs, NO FWD in Pontiac let Saturn unload that crap.

    Opel/Holden = Saturn/Pontiac For North America

    Monaro/GTO
    Torana TT36/G6
    Commodore/G8
    HSV/High performance
    Pontiac Solstice
    a Kappa 2 door coupe(2+2) and a HatchBack(RWD)
    Ute/the closest thing to a SUV in Pontiac


    There problem solved!

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Pontiac should not be a huge seller, but it does need a sedan priced and sized right above the G6. All W bodies (Impala, LaCrosse) are dynamiclly in another decade. GM should kill the Grand Prix- it competes to directly with the LaCrosse (dynamiclly the same car, except the Lacrosse has a better V6 engine) when paired with a pontac dealer. The G6 is going to need an update soon, too. The 4 cyld model should have been out last year, and all G6 models are overpriced.

    The Sunfire was a big seller, but remember the strategy- Buick+Pontiac+GMC= full line manufacturer.

    Pontiac needs some kind of sports compact, a redesigned GTO, the solstice, and an updated G6. There is no room in the Pontiac Torrent and Sv6 is buick already sells two SUVs and a Minivan.

    Oh, well- I still think GM should dump buick and give pontiac all the car-based SUV's that Buick sells.


    Saturn- competes with Honda, Mazda, and Acura and entry lux car makers.

    Chevrolet- competes with Toyota, Ford, and Nissan

    Pontiac/GMC- competes with Chevrolet...duh? Pontiac should compete with Scion, MAzda, and entry level BMWs, and Ford/Chrysler sports car offerings.

    Buick- supposed to compete with Lincoln/Mercury- but they are in the hole, too. GM should put this out of its mysery, even if they make good cars, no one wants a buick keychain, someone might see it!

    Cadillac- competes with Luxury Carmakers

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    Is it just me or does the Torrent look a little too much like a certain Buick... Blah!

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    Re: Pontiac: "The Toughest Sale On Earth"

    I would get mad too, since pontiacs are just warmed over chevys. If i was to buy a car I just by a chevy over the pontiac version, since it probably be cheaper anyways.
    I'll make a new sig. Later.
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