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Can Dodge rebuild Pontiac excitement?

DETROIT -- General Motors CEO Mary Barra, at the recent Automotive News World Congress, said the company doesn’t miss any of the brands that were discontinued during the company’s 2008-09 bankruptcy and restructuring -- Saturn, Saab, Hummer and Pontiac.

You can take that to mean that none will ever be revived by GM, at least while Barra is in power.

But that doesn’t mean displaced customers of two of the brands -- Hummer and Pontiac -- have nowhere to go.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is building a lineup that would be a natural home for displaced Hummer and Pontiac customers.

Looking at Jeep’s staggering global growth and the worldwide explosion in popularity of SUVs and crossovers, you have to think a Hummer customer’s first choice would be a Jeep. (Don’t forget the two brands shared the same basic seven-slot grille.) GM no longer has a dedicated brand of rugged off-road vehicles.

But I see the biggest migration of GM customers to coming from Pontiac -- and going to Dodge.

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Good piece. Certainly makes you think about both Pontiac's demise, GM's lack of a "performance brand" (and if it really even needs one), and Dodge's new role as America's "only performance" brand left standing.
I don’t want to give you the impression that GM no longer cares about performance cars and Pontiac customers. Cadillac is largely about luxury and tire-shredding performance. At the North American International Auto Show, Cadillac showcased the new CTS-V, a 640-hp road rocket.

And Chevrolet has some interesting cars, such as the SS, which is a new version of the discontinued Pontiac G8 sports sedan, and the Corvette and Camaro. But GM has no mainstream brand purely devoted to performance or even with a strong performance image.
Chances are that Pontiac will never return. And if it did, I could only imagine it being in a limited lineup and with a limited run of cars.

If I were running GM and had it in my head to have Pontiac re-emerge as a brand, I would do it by emulating Lagonda. That is to say, GM would make a limited batch of cars for a few years, then the brand would become dormant again. Then ten years later, they'd do the same thing down the line via another limited run. Lagonda has done this in the past and they do it well. They sell and service them through Aston Martin dealers, so it wasn't like they had to set up a new sales channel. I could imagine GM doing something that like with Pontiac; everything handled through Chevrolet or Buick-GMC stores, and you don't have to worry about long-term ancillary considerations (advertising, brand-awareness, etc) because it's a limited run with a limited audience. You offer up a bespoke product once every 10 or 15 years (a re-bodied Camaro sold as a Trans Am; a re-bodied CTS coupe sold as a new GTO, etc). Once the limited run is completed and sold, the brand goes back into dormancy. No big fuss, no huge "shut down" of a sales channel, etc. GM could even set up a "coach building" division much like Ferrari has to create a limited run of products off of off the shelf parts and platforms to handle most of the engineering/design. Since it's a limited run, they'd command big money and they'd be both profitable and create big exposure with collectors/journalists.

However, if GM was looking for a more "upscale" and permanent performance brand, they wouldn't have to revive any dormant brands. Though a lot of people hated the idea, there was the idea floated awhile back of turning the Corvette into a brand unto itself. Doing so would have insulated the Corvette from the rest of the Chevrolet line up (much like they did in Europe for a time) and create a sense of exclusivity. What's more, creating a Corvette brand would allow the lineup to grow and encompass more than just a single product line.

Chances are that GM will never do this, but if they were to reconsider it, the introduction of a mid-engine Corvette Zora -- and the continued production and sale of the current Corvette alongside of it to satisfy 'traditional' Vette customers -- would certainly be the logical time to "splinter off" the Corvette into a standalone brand. Of course, a future variant of the SS sedan, disassociated with Chevrolet, could create an interesting start to a three-product Corvette performance brand at GM to take on the likes of Porsche, Aston Martin, et al.

Just my thoughts, of course.
 
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Makes sense. Seems like Dodge is somewhat replicating the later/ending Pontiac lineup, and snagging those consumers.
Charger – G8
Challenger – GTO/Firebird
Dart – G6/G5

Though my question is – If GM had fought and kept Pontiac, could that division have been made successful within the current/new corporate structure?

Not that I advocated it's demise at all. Just looking at today's economic climate. Keeping that division could have spread out the resources somewhat thin for product development.

Maybe once GM is on real secure market footing, they might entertain reviving the division (to some degree).
 

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I honestly feel that Corvette is going to be a sub brand, otherwise there is no reason to have the C7 be called Stingray. I feel that GM could utilize GMC or Chevy to create a Hummer type vehicle, since they already excel at making great trucks and it would be a logical step to help increase their ATP's of those vehicles. As for Pontiac, the idea of limited production cars would be nice, but with the lineup they had before their demise and the fleet rate the majority of the cars had makes me wonder if it really would be worth the investment.
 

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As a Hummer H3 owner I'm not happy about this at all. I love GM and would really love for a hummer return, even though I understand that it's 99.9% impossible. The "off-road" market is quickly rising and GM doesn't have any vehicle to compete. Either that rumored GMC off-road model gets green lit, or I'll be a new future Jeep owner. :(
 

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Pontiac thrived back in the days when performance and luxury were mutually exclusive on the North American market. Now, performance is considered a luxury, and you have to get the luxury car for the performance. Expensive technological developments like MagnaRide have ensured that you will only get performance in luxury cars. Meanwhile, most North American carbuyers have shown a decreasing interest in affordable performance.

Pontiac, in its last days, sold a rebadged Toyota crossover, and a rebadged GMDAT subcompact. A far cry from their legendary "Wide Track" cars of the 1960's.

Dodge has the Viper and Hellcats as their flagships, but, at the end of the day, most of their customers will be buying Darts and Journeys.
 

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However, if GM was looking for a more "upscale" performance brand, they wouldn't have to revive any dormant brands. Though a lot of people hated the idea, there was the idea floated awhile back of turning the Corvette into a brand unto itself. Doing so would have insulated the Corvette from the rest of the Chevrolet line up (much like they did in Europe for a time) and create a sense of exclusivity. What's more, creating a Corvette brand would allow the lineup to grow and encompass more than just a single product line.

Chances are that GM will never do this, but if they were to reconsider it, the introduction of a mid-engine Corvette Zora -- and the continued production and sale of the current Corvette alongside of it to satisfy 'traditional' Vette customers -- would certainly be the logical time to "splinter off" the Corvette into a standalone brand. Of course, a future variant of the SS sedan, disassociated with Chevrolet, could create an interesting start to a Corvette performance brand at GM to take on the likes of Porsche, Aston Martin, et al.
I have been saying this for years. Corvette is already a "brand" outside of NA. Why not grow that idea?
 

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Um...look at the Hellcat, the SVT's, Scat-pack models, etc. Pontiac was never on this level, aside from the GTO. They had plastic cladded rebadges of other GM cars.
True. Though when Dodge was running concurrent, they weren't much better than Pontiac (at times much worse).

I'm sure if Pontiac were still around, they would have been refocused to real performance division and would have competing cars.
 

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True. Though when Dodge was running concurrent, they weren't much better than Pontiac (at times much worse).

I'm sure if Pontiac were still around, they would have been refocused to real performance division and would have competing cars.
I really doubt that....seeing how there is a lot of complaining that New GM has been too slow with MCE's and new models post-bankruptcy. I feel that Pontiac still being around would only make that worse fro GM.
 

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"I don’t want to give you the impression that GM no longer cares about performance cars and Pontiac customers. Cadillac is largely about luxury and tire-shredding performance. At the North American International Auto Show, Cadillac showcased the new CTS-V, a 640-hp road rocket.

"And Chevrolet has some interesting cars, such as the SS, which is a new version of the discontinued Pontiac G8 sports sedan, and the Corvette and Camaro. But GM has no mainstream brand purely devoted to performance or even with a strong performance image."

These are all high-end vehicles. Pontiac catered to enthusiasts on a budget. Those days are gone. Budget-minded enthusiasts today must either be resourceful and savvy enough to find a good used performance-oriented vehicle, or partake of the many floaty mainstream offerings today.
 

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I think the revival of Hummer would make more sense than the return of Pontiac. Hummer had a global existents, RHD-versions and established image. At least, it was not rebadge.
 

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These are all high-end vehicles. Pontiac catered to enthusiasts on a budget. Those days are gone. Budget-minded enthusiasts today must either be resourceful and savvy enough to find a good used performance-oriented vehicle, or partake of the many floaty mainstream offerings today.
Pretty close to the truth at least for me and other budget performance enthusiasts. Its harder to find the "budget" performance cars out there today but they are there. I found mine in the Mustang GT. As HP per dollar goes I'm not sure anyone beats Ford and the Mustang GT right now. 435 HP for about $32K or thereabouts if you are willing to go with a base model, no option "stripper". Dodge lets you into a 485 HP Scat Pack at about $40K with no options as well. Not exactly cheap, but as HP per dollar goes a pretty good deal.
 
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Heck - The only reason why I entertained the idea of buying a Charger for years was for the fact there was no longer a Pontiac G8.

It's beyond obvious there a market out there for affordable rwd performance cars/sedans. Hopefully GM is starting to realize this. Though it really seems like they're giving that market to Dodge.
 

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Just to follow up on my Dollar per HP "budget-minded" performance for enthusiasts.

Best Dollar/HP ratios in a base model, no option, manual V8 with MSRP and destination included.

1. Ford Mustang GT $33,125/435 HP/$76.15 per HP
2. Chevrolet Camaro SS $34,500/426 HP/$80.99 per HP
3. Dodge Challenger RT Scat Pack $39,490 HP/$81.42 per HP

note if you throw in an automatic as the only option then the Camaro SS falls to third as it only has 400 HP. If you look at the V6 versions they can actually have slightly better $ per HP ratios than the V8.
 
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"I don’t want to give you the impression that GM no longer cares about performance cars and Pontiac customers. Cadillac is largely about luxury and tire-shredding performance. At the North American International Auto Show, Cadillac showcased the new CTS-V, a 640-hp road rocket.

"And Chevrolet has some interesting cars, such as the SS, which is a new version of the discontinued Pontiac G8 sports sedan, and the Corvette and Camaro. But GM has no mainstream brand purely devoted to performance or even with a strong performance image."

These are all high-end vehicles. Pontiac catered to enthusiasts on a budget. Those days are gone. Budget-minded enthusiasts today must either be resourceful and savvy enough to find a good used performance-oriented vehicle, or partake of the many floaty mainstream offerings today.
That was back when it was acceptable for someone to have power under the hood but still have cloth seats and crank windows.

Today, if someone wants power under the hood they want heated leather and a moonroof too. Luxury and performance go hand in hand now. If you can't afford it you're probably not interested in the power anyways.

Besides, there's plenty of cars in the $28-35k price class that give you performance and power. You don't have to be rich to afford performance.
 
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