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NSAP Investigates
GMI Exclusive:
The future of the Sunfire

This is the first of what I hope many investigative articles that I may do. The other day I started investigating the very controversial Pontiac Sunfire future. I went straight to the source: Pontiac. I talked to several Pontiac officials asking about a time-frame and details of a new Sunfire or Sunfire replacement. After a few E-Mails I finally got what they claim a true answer. "The Sunfire is an important, youth-oriented vehicle for Pontiac; we'll offer it in the foreseeable future". That is the final answer I got.
What exactly they mean by “foreseeable” is beyond me. I am thinking that Pontiac is still making a nice profit of off the Sunfire, because all the sources I talked to stressed the fact that the Sunfire is still a big profit maker. I couldn’t help but ask the question, “Why not bring over the Pursuit from Canada to replace the outdated Sunfire”? I got a very first-rate answer to that. Basically Pontiac is relying on the Vibe for an entry level vehicle more so than the Sunfire. As of right now Pontiac has no plans for a new Delta-based car in the states. Sadly, it looks like the Sunfire will be in dealers for now, but as one pontiac official said, "POntiac is always investigating future products", but there are NO plans right now for a replacement. It's going to stay in limbo for awhile.
 

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I've read conflicting things on this, too, and it made me wonder. Somewhere we had a post from a guy who said he works at the Cobalt factory, and that Cavalier/Sunfire production would be halted soon.

In other news we've read that the Sunfire will continue to be offered, built alongside the Cobalt, but that news is almost a year old now, and things can change in a year.

Pontiac's "forseeable future" could be anything, as you make good note of. Then again, all GM sales people like to pump even outgoing product --- they want to sell what is currently on dealer lots so the dealers order more new stock. They don't want people waiting for the next big introduction -- especially when even they don't know for sure what it will be. My queries on the Bonneville GXP a year or two ago came back with responses telling me how great the Bonneville SSEi "currently available" is. :)

Personally I think Pontiac needs a "sport compact" that isn't a Toyota under the skin, if they want to be taken seriously by the cash-strapped youth market. It may be selling well, but every time I hear someone praise the Vibe, they end up praising its "Toyota Quality".

Problem is, how does Pontiac keep an "entry" car buyer loyal if that buyer is ga-ga about Toyota? Pontiac has no other Toyota vehicle to "step up" into. Seems like flawed logic, and a short term sales strategy. I'm sure there will be some buyers who will come to like the Pontiac brand because of the Vibe -- and will get their service at Pontiac dealerships making that connection for them, but I just don't see it as being much more than that.

If Pontiac sticks with the J-body Sunfire, then they need to offer a high-po version like the Sunfire GXP. It might do wonders for J-body respect and the aftermarket for used J-bodies as well. There really hasn't been a factory performance-oriented J-body since the Cavalier Z24 of old. A Sunfire GXP may squeeze a few more years out of the Sunfire and pump the image up. Otherwise, who would buy a Sunfire when the Cobalt is available?
 

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Originally posted by 2000GTPBROTHER@Apr 10 2004, 10:05 PM
I think I read '04 Sunfire ends production in Ohio which becomes Cobolt/Pursuit. All "05 Sunfires come out of the Mexico "J" car plant line.
That explains it. But I'm sure that somewhere I read that the Sunfire was going to be "built alongside the Cobalt". They must have changed that plan.

Here's a tidbit from J-body.org, never knew this:


Where are J-body cars currently produced?
Lordstown, Ohio
Lansing, Michigan (Convertible models only - not produced anymore)
Ramos Arizpe, (Coahuila) Mexico

J-bodies were also produced in Janesville, Wisconsin at one point, but that facility has since been closed.
http://www.j-body.org/faq/5/12/
 

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Originally posted by nsap@Apr 10 2004, 03:47 PM
NSAP Investigates
GMI Exclusive:
The future of the Sunfire

This is the first of what I hope many investigative articles that I may do. The other day I started investigating the very controversial Pontiac Sunfire future. I went straight to the source: Pontiac. I talked to several Pontiac officials asking about a time-frame and details of a new Sunfire or Sunfire replacement. After a few E-Mails I finally got what they claim a true answer. "The Sunfire is an important, youth-oriented vehicle for Pontiac; we'll offer it in the foreseeable future". That is the final answer I got.
What exactly they mean by “foreseeable” is beyond me. I am thinking that Pontiac is still making a nice profit of off the Sunfire, because all the sources I talked to stressed the fact that the Sunfire is still a big profit maker. I couldn’t help but ask the question, “Why not bring over the Pursuit from Canada to replace the outdated Sunfire”? I got a very first-rate answer to that. Basically Pontiac is relying on the Vibe for an entry level vehicle more so than the Sunfire. As of right now Pontiac has no plans for a new Delta-based car in the states. Sadly, it looks like the Sunfire will be in dealers for now, but as one pontiac official said, "POntiac is always investigating future products", but there are NO plans right now for a replacement. It's going to stay in limbo for awhile.
I'm probably one of the only who loved to hear this... :woot2:
 

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Originally posted by nsap@Apr 10 2004, 04:47 PM
I couldn’t help but ask the question, “Why not bring over the Pursuit from Canada to replace the outdated Sunfire”?
We will GLADLY give you all the Pursuits that you want and even ship them all to the States if we can get just a few GTOs. Done deal!
 

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Consider it dead. They want the cobalt to get all of the sales so they can attain the best selling status. For too long, GM has always had two or more derivatives... and this will position them to sell more cobalts... rather than splitting the sales.
 

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I remember selling plenty of Sunfires when I was selling Pontiacs in the mid to late 1990's, but that was when we had sedan, coupes, and convertibles, now with the Sunfire down to a 1 trim level coupe, I cant see how the car can continue to be a money maker for Pontiac.

But I am guessing that the combo of 1 bodystyle, 1 trim level and Mexican production, all combined with long paid for tooling and little advertising budget and any Sunfire sold can be profitable.

I still do see plenty of people with new Sunfires on the road, some of them are rentals, but some are purchased, I guess as long as there is some demand, Pontiac is happy selling Sunfires while it thinks out it's next move...

I would like to see a delta based car eventually replace the Sunfire...It's bound to happen...but perhaps something different..maybe a 3 and 5 door version, to replace both the Vibe and Sunfire at the same time.
 

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Originally posted by SilverZ@Apr 11 2004, 02:10 PM
Consider it dead. They want the cobalt to get all of the sales so they can attain the best selling status. For too long, GM has always had two or more derivatives... and this will position them to sell more cobalts... rather than splitting the sales.
That would be an interesting strategy indeed. Now if GM would get rid of the GMC trucks, they could take Chevy to the top. :D
 

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HAHA I THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA TO KILL OFF THE SUNFIRE AFTER EITHER 2004 OR 2005..KEEP THE VIBE BUT REDESIGN IT HELL WITH TOYOTA..BUILD A REAL CROSSOVER WAGON OR WHATEVER IT IS CONSIDERED..REDESIGN THE VIBE TO BE LIKE A SAFARI TYPE TO GO UP AGAINST THE DODGE MAGNUM..CHEVY HAS THE MALIBU MAXX AND SAAB HAS A SPORT WAGON COMBINE THE 2 WAGONS AND GIVE PONTIAC A SWEET LOOKING VERSION ONLY MAKE IT A LOT SPORTIER AND EDGIER THAN THE MAXX AND 9-5 WAGON AND HAVE ONLY 2 ENGINES-A 3.5L AND 3.8L SUPERCHARGED ENGINES FOR IT.. I THINK PONTIAC WOULD BE THE DIVISION FOR A SPORTY AND EDGY WAGON IF THE DODGE MAGNUM SALES TAKES OFF..OR JUST PRODUCE A WAGON OFF THE UPCOMING KAPPA PLATFORM JUST MAKE IT LONGER BY BOUT 1 FT OR 2 JUST DONT MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THE SOLSTICE.................ONE SMALL THING "MING" BUDDY - I KINDA LIKE THE IDEA BUT FOR BEING A GMC SALESMAN ID HATE TO SEE GMC GO ESPECIALLY IF U LEAVE CHEVY TO TAKE ON TOYOTA, INFINITI, CHRYSLER, FORD,MERCURY, AND THE REST OF THE CROWD....GMC HAS TO BE IN THE CROWD TO HELP OUT WITH THE LUXURY SIDE OF THE MIDSIZE SUV..YEA CADDY CAN COME OUT WITH ONE BUT I THINK GM IS GOIN TO FAR WITH THE MIDSIZE SUVS WITH SAAB AND BUICK HAVING ONE AND PROBABLY MORE COMING BUT ID LIKE TO SEE GMC GO ON..I DO THINK THOUGH GMC SHOULD HAVE THE CANYON ONLY WITH A HYBRID ENGINE NOT A GASOLINE ENGINE LIKE THE CHEVY SIBLING..I BELIEVE YA GOTTA SEPERATE THE COLORADO/CANYON P/U'S OTHERWISE ITS LIKE HAVING A JIMMY/BLAZER AND SONOMA/S10 BODY TOGETHER AGAIN..
 

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I think that Pontiac needs to make a 3 door hatch and a 4dr sedan and bring it here. Suspension needs to be tuned up to the top notch... all the way to 11 (see who gets that).
I would like to see a Civic Si, Golf, Audi A1 , BMW 1 sereis beater with this.
I think a hatch is better suited for Pontiacs need, and will attract more sport compact buyers. If they want a coupe, they have the Cobalt.
 

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Future Sunfire? HELL NO! Future Pursuit? HELL YES! :D
 

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Originally posted by Ming@Apr 11 2004, 08:29 PM

That would be an interesting strategy indeed. Now if GM would get rid of the GMC trucks, they could take Chevy to the top.
Gee with such great logic kill the Caddy SLADE...it is just another rebadge RIGHT?
If you want GM to be interested in having commercials stating
"the best selling car/truck in America"
then hope they build the best looking and highest quality at a good price CAR or Truck
Just leave GMC and for that matter Pontiac alone
 

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I think Pontiac ought to offer a stripper Vibe to take up the slack, at least until they can come up with a nice Kappa coupe and sedan.

When they first came out, I noticed the Matrix started about $1,700 below the Vibe, because Toyota offered a lower base version. I haven't checked, but I suspect that's still the case.
 

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Originally posted by jmiller417@Apr 18 2004, 11:22 PM
I think Pontiac ought to offer a stripper Vibe to take up the slack, at least until they can come up with a nice Kappa coupe and sedan.

When they first came out, I noticed the Matrix started about $1,700 below the Vibe, because Toyota offered a lower base version. I haven't checked, but I suspect that's still the case.
It is unlikely that Kappa can spawn sedans... as it is a 2+ 2 coupe is stretching the platform quite a bit.
 

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Originally posted by nsap@Apr 10 2004, 09:47 PM
I am thinking that Pontiac is still making a nice profit of off the Sunfire, because all the sources I talked to stressed the fact that the Sunfire is still a big profit maker.
i thought GM lost money on every cavalier and sunfire sold!?! even if they did make a profit, it'd be pretty damn marginal. these cars aren't the cash cows the corwn vic and mercury marquis are for ford, for sure!
 

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First of all nobody would make a crappy little entry level car for 20 years if it wasnt profitable. It doesn't make bussiness sense. I do believe the J's were GM's best selling platform, so how can you make money if you lose money selling your biggest seller?? I donno I could just be making this all up...

Second, "Why don’t you just make 10 louder and make 10 be the top number, and make that a little louder?" :woot2:
 

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It's the entry car strategy.

Research proves that first time car buyers much of the time stick with the brand (or manufacturer) they were introduced to with their first car.

Lose money on that first car, and keep a Pontiac buyer for a decade or more.

The Koreans break that rule by actually making money even on the entry level cars.
 

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Originally posted by syth82@Apr 20 2004, 04:24 PM
First of all nobody would make a crappy little entry level car for 20 years if it wasnt profitable. It doesn't make bussiness sense. I do believe the J's were GM's best selling platform, so how can you make money if you lose money selling your biggest seller?? I donno I could just be making this all up...

Second, "Why don’t you just make 10 louder and make 10 be the top number, and make that a little louder?" :woot2:
further to what ming said... it's all about the math. lets make up some numbers... 1,000 sunfires sold at a loss of $100 per vehicle... that's a loss of $100,000. but add to that 500 grand prix sales at a profit of $500 per vehicle... that's a profit of $250,000... combine the two lines and there's profit of $150,000. and as ming said pontiac figures enough sunfire buyers will hop into a grand prix next to make sunfires worth their while.
 
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