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I think GM can hold onto its brands if it starts using them differently. The "Sloan Ladder" -- where a buyers starts with Chevrolet and then moves through Pontiac and Buick on the way to Cadillac -- doesn't really make sense any more.

But, GM has many pairs of divisions that would work well together is the same fashion as Toyota/Lexus, Nissan/Infinity or Honda/Acura. The goal would be to identify and attract a specific (and different) segment of the buying public with a mass-market brand, paired with a natural near-luxury/luxury brand.

I propose the following pairs:

Chevrolet and Buick - for the value-oriented traditional buyer

Pontiac and Cadillac - for buyers who want a more performance-oriented vehicle with edgy styling

Subaru and Saab - for people looking for all-weather performance, off-beat styling and advanced engineering and technology

Saturn and Suzuki - well crafted, reliable cars with a painless buying/owning experience (no ****er price, etc.)

I'm probably missing some things here, but you get the idea. A buyer is attracted to the Chevolet line-up, gets a bit older and more successful and finds the same qualities they enjoyed in their Chevy in the more expensive and luxurious Buick.

This way GM could use its divisions to cover tighter sections of the market and build brand loyalty, while having a better understanding of what division they are aiming to move customers up into.
 
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