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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With the resurgence of Cadillac of late, and the entire revolution that seems to be going on at GM, there is much talk that GM’s Pontiac and Buick brands will start taking on the premiere marks, BMW and Lexus.

Sorry, but I don’t see this happening. I don’t think this in the immediate future, nor do I think of it happening in the long term.

BMW in the USA has traditionally been a high-end brand. Lexus was invented by Toyota to distance itself from the regular Toyotas in order to be a high-end brand. Both companies came to market as high-end. They didn’t have to fight their way to get on top.

For Buick and Pontiac to be considered premium brands, would require much more than just some new expensive models. The American public would need to be reprogrammed. I don’t see that happening.

Buick and Pontiac are not considered high-end. That’s the job of the Cadillac division of General Motors. Buick and Pontiac are considered less common than Chevrolet cars, but they are still not really a rank above. As long as there is overlap among the brands (similar prices, similar platforms, similar body styles), these cars will never be a cut above. To fight perception to be a high-end brand is harder than becoming a high-end brand itself. You can make a well-made car with all the right goodies and gadgets, and you can charge a high price for it but that doesn’t mean the luxury community will accept it.

Take for example, the Bonneville GXP and the Cadillac DTS. The GXP is $32,272. The DTS is $46,162. Both vehicles have the same engine (slightly detuned in the Bonneville) and mechanicals. They share the same body configuration (4 door, 5 passenger sedan). They share similar dimensions (Height and width are virtually the same, DTS is less than 5 inches longer). They share all the same luxury amenities: Leather, Traction control, airbags, sunroof option, ABS, CD Stereo, Stability Control, A/C, and electric everything. For all intensive purposes, aside from the styling, the cars are the same. (Only an extra year of warranty is the only obvious difference). Yet a $14,000 difference separates the 2 cars. Does this mean that the Bonneville is too cheap? Or is the DTS too expensive? Regardless of either, it clearly shows that the buying public is willing to pay a $14000 premium for what is known as a prestige or high-end brand.

The fact that people are willing to pay a premium, means that if Buick or Pontiac want to take on BMW and Lexus, they have to offer the same package in a price that’s $10,000 to $15,000 less. People won’t buy a Buick Velite at $62,000 (pricing hasn’t been announced yet), when they can get a Lexus SC430 at that price. It will be even difficult for the Velite to compete at $40,000 with cars like the BMW 330Ci Convertible at that price.

Buick has to take on Toyota and Chrysler. Buick isn’t GM’s bread and butter. (That’s Chevrolet’s job). Buick needs to pick certain cars on the market, and do what it can to steal their thunder. Buick needs an Avalon fighter, not a Lexus ES330 fighter. The Velite (if built) should be priced to compete against the Sebring and Solara, not the SC430. Buick should fight the Chrysler 300C and the Ford Five Hundred. Let Chevy go against the “popular” cars (Camry, Accord). Let Buick go after the non-mainstream non-luxury brand high-end cars. (Hyundai XG350, Mazda Millenia, Mitsubishi Diamante, Nissan Maxima, etc…) Let Pontiac go after the non-premium (but not mainstream) sporty cars (Nissan 350z and Maxima, Dodge Magnum, Neon SRT, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Ford Mustang, etc…).

This means that Buick and Pontiac would both have to restructure their model lineups. Lacrosse, LeSabre, Park Avenue is a lot of overlap if you ask me. Throw the Grand Prix and Bonneville into that mix, and you are flooding the market with cars that aren’t making the buyers come running. Pontiac needs more coupes, less sedans, more manual transmissions. Buick needs more variety, not just 4 door sedans (I’m purposely ignoring the SUVs for the moment.).

I think that if GM wants to compete with the premium brands, they have to expand the Cadillac lineup. Cadillac is known as American luxury. Buick is not. Pontiac is not. If that means throwing a coupe or two into the mix as well as another convertible (4 passenger) and maybe even a smaller sedan, than so be it.

I would rather see Pontiac or Buick disappear altogether and Cadillac take a bigger market share than see all 3 brands lose out to the competitors. But I think that is each brand focuses on their direct competition, they will get stronger. If they focus on brands that aren’t their competition, they will get beaten. Lexus and BMW are not direct competition for Buick and Pontiac. I don’t believe that any Lexus or BMW shopper cross-shops with Buick or Pontiac.

As evidenced by the popularity and reception of the CTS and XLR (and even the SRX), people are willing to give Cadillac a second chance. But as I said, Cadillac is a proven Luxury brand. Buick and Pontiac are not.

GM is making much better products than they were even a couple years ago. The difference is night and day. But GM (and GM fans) can’t get ahead of themselves. You have to build up consumer confidence before you can take on the premium brands. This won’t happen any time soon (unfortunately for GM).
 

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wow, what can i say? that's pretty much the truth. however, one thing that Buick does well at is attract the geriatric crowd who can't afford the Cadillacs. Pontiac, on the other hand, definitely needs to revamp EVERYTHING. GTO is a good start,(just please make the styling edgier next time around!!!) but the Bonneville? Grand Prix? Bonneville should go, GP needs to become a coupe, or at least a much sportier sedan (Maxima fighter, perhaps). the G6 looks good, hopefully there will be a high performance variant that TRULY kicks arse. last but not least, for Pontiac's rebirth, a Firebird. a real, fire breathing, butt kicking, tire smoking monster machine that looks great, and has the power to compete against all comers. that will make Pontiac the excitement division it used to be. that's just my take, of course.
 

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I agree with your basic argument - Pontiac is not BMW, and probably never will be. Buick might be able to do Lexus, but only with more cutting edge tech, and NO value engines or transmissions, nav screens, and all that Lexus offers. But I do think that Pontiac and Buick can have a place in the market without emulating or competing directly with another brand.

Buick and Pontiac are considered less common than Chevrolet cars, but they are still not really a rank above.
Chevrolet doesn't offer anything like the Bonneville SSEi or GXP, or the LeSabre or Park Avenue. Chevy dealerships tend to be blue collar in atmosphere, while Buick dealerships are sedate, nicely decorated, like a designer handbag shop in a mall. I might agree that Pontiac hasn't done a good job in the past of putting itself above Chevy in prestige (Sunfire and Cavalier - Grand Am and Malibu), but it can put itself one step ahead in performance, styling, and "attitude". Not with excessive ribbing, but with extra features and options never available to Chevies (Turbo Sunbird vs. Cavalier, Series III GP vs. old gen powered Impala SS).

GM's problem is that they cave to Chevy dealers' pressure too easily. The idea that Chevy is allowed to have the hottest performance car (Corvette), and Pontiac is consistently denied that, despite being GM's "excitement" division is ridiculous.

Pontiac may be the brand GM needs to counter Scion. I am biased because I own and like Pontiacs -- heck, I love the arrowhead emblem --- but if I was in control of GM, I'd drive Mitsubishi's EVO into the ground by offering a similar vehicle for Pontiac. A car guy, not some GM Suit, should be in control of marketing at Pontiac.
 

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Wow, I find it interesting that Rex has more brain cells and logical thinking then most of the big wigs at GM.

It wouldn't bother me in the least if I see a few idiotic big wigs get fired and replaced with Rex;)

I guess you can say I agree with you on all points, its Caddy's job to battle Lexus not Buick, and Pontaic will NEVER be in the same league as BMW, unless Pontiac converts all thier cars to rear or awd instead of horrid fwd offerings and really pumps up the car line with some serious fire power which I don't see happening. The G6 and Grand Prix can't even compete with Nissans Altima and Maxima let alone anything BMW makes. Why not make Pontiac attack Nissan, cars that are in the same playing field and both trying to show they have a fun sporty nature to them. Isn't that what Pontiac is all about?
 

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Originally posted by tantalize9@Mar 25 2004, 04:45 PM
Why not make Pontiac attack Nissan, cars that are in the same playing field and both trying to show they have a fun sporty nature to them. Isn't that what Pontiac is all about?
That's a good point. Pontiac is much more suited to going after / emulating Nissan.

I also wish that GM would give the Montana SV6 something truly unique. Like a booming 12 speaker sound system. Pontiac should have no car or ute in its lineup that is a complete mechanical clone with another division.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Originally posted by Ming@Mar 25 2004, 05:31 PM
Chevrolet doesn't offer anything like the Bonneville SSEi or GXP, or the LeSabre or Park Avenue.
With the Caprice gone, Chevy doesn't have a super large sedan anymore. (But they used to).

But how much different in terms of size/performance/options/price is the Impala SS from the Lesabre Limited. If anything the Impala is the better value/performer.
 

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Why not make Pontiac attack Nissan, cars that are in the same playing field and both trying to show they have a fun sporty nature to them. Isn't that what Pontiac is all about?
That's a good point. Pontiac is much more suited to going after / emulating Nissan.

I also wish that GM would give the Montana SV6 something truly unique. Like a booming 12 speaker sound system. Pontiac should have no car or ute in its lineup that is a complete mechanical clone with another division.
Add Mazda to that. GM should be after those two brands with Pontiac.

BMW is for Caddy to spank.

Lexus = Boring, which = Buick.
 

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I think of Chevy as people with a little cash , older and boring (vette does not count)
Pontic sporty feel and some cash. I know people who got Grand Prix when they get their first grandchild( we did)
Buick prestige, older and some cash
Caddy prestige and alot of cash
This does not include trucks and SUV's
 

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Originally posted by Rex Raider@Mar 25 2004, 05:28 PM

But how much different in terms of size/performance/options/price is the Impala SS from the Lesabre Limited.  If anything the Impala is the better value/performer.

The Buick Limited has more standard features(sans supercharger) and, from what I can tell better styling and a softer ride. Plus I'd never get caught dead driving a Chevy sedan :)
 

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I think people are saying that Pontiac is going against BMW because of the dog leg on the C-pillar and the twin grills. I see no similarity other than styling...and even then I believe the grills are coincidental.
 

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GM has to many car lines worldwide. This caused them to spread the money out instead of consolidating it over a few lines. Dump Saturn and Buick and GM trucks. Spend all that saved cash on Chevy, Pontiac and Caddy and blow everyone away.
 

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i never felt that pontiac would ever be a good bmw fighter, when they said they would do it, i laughed. but buick and lexus, i can see that, more pople are willing to pay a little extra for a buick, but when people go to pontiac they are normally looking for a good deal. somthing you dont find over at BMW
 

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pontiacs are nothing but chevrolets with "lock washers" :rolleyes:
 

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I don't agree with your point. You see, the General and Ford offered to buy early in their years. The GM lineup isn't supposed to go in order such as: SATURN, CHEVROLET, BUICK, CADILLAC....The general just bought them to become richer. It's okay to move upscale. You just have to do it the right way, and if we continue 'platforms' (even though I entirely disagree with them), we might just get somewhere!!! :lol:
 

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I think it's true that Buick won't have the brand image that Lexus has
in a short term , but that does not mean it can't get a better image in time.
If it wants to go up, maybe the Velite it's the proper solution to get atention.
Probably this model won't have the succes of an XLR, but the other models
behind will have a rich relative in the family so they will benefit from its image.

A "not quite luxury" image has been succesfully applied to VW in Europe.
The Passat model is a best seller. They have even tryed to get some piece of the market from BMW 7 series and Mercedes S Classe with the Phaeton model.
This atempt wasn't succesfull as aspected but that's not the main idea .

WV not long ago(maybe 7 or 8 years) halted the production of the Beetle model
(in Mexico) and now it was trying to fight against the most famous premium brands. From a straight approach it was a failure, but in other way it succeded.
VW it's no longer an ordinary car.So customers are willing to pay more for a shiny
Passat than before.

WV it's in Europe the equivalent of Chevy.
Mybe it would be too much and sensless for Chevy to become premium,
but Buick should try this.It is allready a "not quite luxury" brand and with time
if will at least get better money for an improved image.

The same goes with Pontiac.

If GM wins the bet of having three premium brands, they won't ever complain
about low profits.They must take their chances.

But in other way, as people get more informed, maybe GM shouldn't switch
same models between different brands.This really spoils image.
 

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you have some very interesting points.

but what do you do with people that can't stand the caddy look? for instance a bmw3 shopper wich would get a cts if it weren't for its square looks... it would be nice to find a medium rwd sedan in the buick or pontiac lineup, right?

"this" and "that" aren't well received... once you have a good product, it's not difficult to make people like it. remember how in "bad boys2" will smith was so happy to promote the cts? well, how can him or someone else promote in the same manner a buick or pontiac product if it dosen't exist?

about your comparo between the dts and the bonneville, well, altough I dig the bonneville, I believe that the interior is messed-up, and I would probably pick the caddy too. But don't forget that the bonneville was created in the super-aggresive body clading batman interior era. now that changed, but the car still has his heritage. a new bonneville would have better chances against any caddy.

those days a full optioned camry is 26k, and the same thing with the lexus name is 32k. wich one brings more $$$ to toyota overall? there is overlapping everywhere.
you have to have some overlap, but I agree that at GM is a little too much now. Yet, I can't imagine it composed of only 2 brands (caddy and chevy). That would mean that GM just became Ford.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The caddies have love it or hate it styling. I'll give you that. But I don't think the typical BMW 3-series shopper ever considers any Cadillac (or any American car in general). Speaking of BMW, have you seen all the latest Bangle bungled designs? If they will go for those bizarre shapes and criss-cross lines, I think they could get used to the Arts&Science design theme. As evidenced with the new STS, Art&Science will get toned down. It's appeal will strengthen with time. At least it's not cookie cutter or copy cat like most of the Lexus designs.

As far as a medium Rear-drive car in the Pontiac line-up, sure I'd love to see that too. As long as it didn't have a Chevy and/or Buick clone.

I don't think Will Smith gave a damn that the car he was driving in a movie was a CTS. It all came down to which company paid the most for product placement. BB2 was obviously financed by GM. (CTS, Blackhawk, Hummer H2, and many more....)

As for the Bonneville, you would pay a $14000 premium to get a different interior?
I'd rather Have the Bonneville and an Aveo and $3000 in my pocket.

This is worth $14000 more?
DTS:

GXP:
 

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Yeah, I agree on BB2, it was who payed the money. But that probably didn't pissed off no one (except the competition), because the cts really is a nice car.
You are also right about the "toned down" styling. Also, in the time left since the introduction of the cts theme, people (me included) started to look at them with a more interested eye instead of just taking them as freak cars...

about the dts, no, the interior alone dosen't justifies, but I would take him because of the overall package. It's also true that I never tested either car, probably after a test I would change my mind? Have no ideea...
 

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Originally posted by yoblues@Mar 25 2004, 05:56 PM
GM has too many car lines worldwide. This caused them to spread the money out instead of consolidating it over a few lines.  Dump Saturn and Buick and GM trucks.  Spend all that saved cash on Chevy, Pontiac and Caddy and blow everyone away.
Exactly. The model life cycle is shrinking, and so even more, GM will spend its time running from division to division, "saving" each lineup just as another one falls. Chevy trucks boomed, Chevy cars busted. Pontiac boomed, olds/saturn busted. Now Cadillac's booming, and Buick is busted. It's like Wheel of Fortune with GM's models...

GM either needs to consolidate product offerings or lower development costs and increase design and production flexibility. Otherwise, it will continue to remain stretched too thin.
 

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Also to add to my post....
to clear it up for you....
For example, if you were GM's CEO and you were thinking of offering a deal to a car company. You wouldn't think of, "Oh, people need to see the offerings of our compact cars". You would think that $$$$ will be in your grasp. To gain money....not to put in a lineup...
 
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