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GM Executive Interview
A GMInsidenews Exclusive



As all of you know Lynn Myers, Pontiac’s General Manager is retiring as of April First of this year. About a week ago I contacted her in regards to doing an interview with me for GMI, and she said that since she was retiring in a short time that I should interview the new General Manager, Jim Bunnell is currently switching job positions and is busy moving to Detroit, he was unavailable for an interview. After a few more correspondence I sparked an interview with Mark-Hans Richer, Pontiac’s Marketing Director. Here is the interview:


NSAP: Pontiac is going through some major changes right now, what are
Pontiac's goals after all of those changes are in effect?


Mark: Pontiac's goals really have never changed. We have been and will continue to be GM "excitement division." Certainly, there have been times when we delivered on that promise better than others. Right now, we are in the middle of a product renaissance at Pontiac, re-emphasizing the values that made us great: clean, expressive styling and a total performance package that delivers both great off-the-line power with superior ride and handling characteristics. You're really starting to see the benefits of this renewed focus in the showroom, with the Vibe, the 2004 Grand Prix, the new Bonneville GXP and, of course, the GTO. In the coming months, we'll kick it into high gear with the introduction of the all-new G6, the restyled Montana SV6 and the Solstice.

NSAP: With the recent introduction of the Bonneville GXP and rumors of a Grand Prix GXP in 2005, what details can you give about future GXP products, or how many vehicles are getting the performance treatment?

Mark: Right now, the only GXP approved for production is the Bonneville, which is currently available. At the 2002 SEMA show in Las Vegas, we rolled out concept GXP vehicles for practically every car we make. Our hope is that you will be seeing more GXP’s in dealer showrooms in the future, but we want to make sure that we deliver on the promise of a "performance series." It's not just a badge to slap on with five extra horsepower. A GXP model has to be something special or we won't produce it.

NSAP: Why is the new Pontiac Pursuit not coming to the U.S.?
Mark: With the Sunfire, Vibe and upcoming Solstice, we feel we have the small car segment covered in the U.S. for right now. I will say that we are always reviewing our product portfolio for the right opportunities, so we might
look at a vehicle like the Pursuit sometime in the future.



NSAP: There is a lot of talk in the automotive world that the new Solstice is underpowered, do you have any comments on that?


Mark: When you look at some of the competition, I don't think the Solstice will
be underpowered. 170 horsepower in a small car is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, the Solstice will benefit from a very balanced and tuned handling and performance package. Considering the fact that no one has driven the final version of the car yet, I think that is some unjustified speculation.



NSAP: There has been several articles saying that Pontiac is getting a variant of the Chevrolet Equinox, reportably called the Torrent, can you comment on that possible vehicle?

Mark: There has been a lot of speculation in this area, but we never said anything about any such vehicle. We're always looking for ways to improve our portfolio, but we don't have any other news at this time.


NSAP: It seems that Pontiac vehicles are getting more and more powerful, are we going to see any rear-wheel-drive sedans in the future?

Mark: I think you are seeing a renewed interest in performance and that trend lends itself to rear-wheel drive vehicles. I don't think we're going to see a complete flip-flop on front-wheel drive, however. For many
applications, FWD cars do have some advantages in traction in adverse
weather conditions, weight, and fuel economy. However, RWD provides a more precise driving experience in performance vehicles, so I think you'll see a few more RWD vehicles coming back into GM and Pontiac. For instance, the Solstice, while certainly not a sedan, is going to be a fun-to-drive RWD car.



NSAP: The public seems very confused about the future of the Aztek, many reports suggest that the vehicle is dying after the 2004 model year and being replaced by a Theta or Lambda-based vehicle, can you clear that up?

Mark: The Aztek will remain part of our portfolio for the foreseeable future. Sales were up slightly in 2003 compared to 2002. It's a steady performer and very popular among its devoted owners, many of whom belong to independent owner's clubs.

NSAP: Can you clear up the time-frame of the G6 coupe, convertible, and performance model?

Mark: The G6 sedan will be available this fall (2004). Both the G6 coupe and convertible will launch next year, along with the 240-horsepower 3.9-liter high output V-6 that will be standard in the GTP models of all three body types.
NSAP: Is the GTO going to available in Canada in 2005?

Mark: No. In the near term, the GTO will only be available in the U.S. due to some slightly different vehicle regulations in Canada. However, we not ruling out making the GTO available in Canada sometime in the future.


NSAP: This is probably the most dogged question, but I have to ask, are there plans for a Firebird? The good F-Body fans are dying to know!

Mark: Right now, there are no vehicles on the drawing board. However, we've always said the Firebird name is only on "hiatus," so if the right product were to come along sometime in the future, we might consider it.


I would like to think Mark for taking the time to answer these questions.
 

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Nice interview NSAP!
 

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dope interview. you asked the only two questions i would've considered for this type of interview - why the US doesn't get the pursuit and why the GTO isn't going to canada. good job!
 

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Superior interview NSAP.

A lot better than the answers I got from the Pontiac "representatives" at my local Auto Show, one of whom told me that he thought the G6 would be getting the 3800 engine, and the other who didn't even know what the Montana SV6 was! :lol: (My show only had the Buick and Saturn CSVs)

At least they tried to be helpful...
 

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Originally posted by Ming@Apr 11 2004, 04:20 AM
Superior interview NSAP.

A lot better than the answers I got from the Pontiac "representatives" at my local Auto Show, one of whom told me that he thought the G6 would be getting the 3800 engine, and the other who didn't even know what the Montana SV6 was! :lol: (My show only had the Buick and Saturn CSVs)

At least they tried to be helpful...
most of the "reps" at autoshows are hired from temp angencies to answer basic questions about pricing and features - the kind of things you can get from reading a brochure - but don't know anything else. try to look for dealers instead.
 

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NSAP: The public seems very confused about the future of the Aztek, many reports suggest that the vehicle is dying after the 2004 model year and being replaced by a Theta or Lambda-based vehicle, can you clear that up?

Mark: The Aztek will remain part of our portfolio for the foreseeable future. Sales were up slightly in 2003 compared to 2002. It's a steady performer and very popular among its devoted owners, many of whom belong to independent owner's clubs.


I found this interesting...I thought the Aztek was going away too....but, if the CSV's are on the same platform, as well as the Buick Rendezvous, I think that the Aztek might stay around through 2007. All the Aztek reall need is a re-do on the front end, give it some "normal" Grand Prix/G6 style headlights, smaller grille and get rid of those goofy openings on the hood, and the car would look 1000% better, now add the new 200 hp 3500 V6, or maybe either the 3.6 DOHC V6 with 255hp or the 3.9 V6 from the G6, some larger wheels, possibly standard 17"'s with optional 18"'s and you could make the Aztek a respectable car.
 

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Originally posted by MCGARRETT@Apr 11 2004, 02:51 PM
I found this interesting...I thought the Aztek was going away too....but, if the CSV's are on the same platform, as well as the Buick Rendezvous, I think that the Aztek might stay around through 2007. All the Aztek reall need is a re-do on the front end, give it some "normal" Grand Prix/G6 style headlights, smaller grille and get rid of those goofy openings on the hood, and the car would look 1000% better, now add the new 200 hp 3500 V6, or maybe either the 3.6 DOHC V6 with 255hp or the 3.9 V6 from the G6, some larger wheels, possibly standard 17"'s with optional 18"'s and you could make the Aztek a respectable car.
I agree - the Vibe got a redo and the Montana SV6's front end would look much nicer.

But the Aztek is made in Mexico, isn't it? I didn't think that it shared a factory with the CSV's, only the Rendezvous.

My guess is that unless Aztek sales really drop into the toilet, the vehicle will be kept around as-is :( until the Rendezvous is redesigned. Since the 2005 Rendezvous base model is keeping the old 3.4L last I heard, I wouldn't expect the Aztek to get the 3.5.

My gut feeling is that GM messed up the image of the Aztek so badly that they will just keep it hanging on like poor old Astro did for so many years, without tweaking it any more, aside from the ridiculous "Rally" paint and wheel package-type deals, or fake hood scoop "enhanced" Grand Am SC/T.
 

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I wasn't surprised with his responce to that Aztek question either... Hopefully the Torrent will replace the Aztek.... But like he said sales were up, so as long as that happens, it probably won't be leaving. ; <_< :(
 

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Originally posted by nsap@Apr 11 2004, 04:14 PM
I wasn't surprised with his responce to that Aztek question either... Hopefully the Torrent will replace the Aztek.... But like he said sales were up, so as long as that happens, it probably won't be leaving. ; <_< :(
Sales to fleet have to be a huge chunk of it. Last time I went to rent a car, there were more Azteks on the lot than I've ever seen in one place. :p
 

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Originally posted by Ming+Apr 11 2004, 03:55 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ming @ Apr 11 2004, 03:55 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-nsap@Apr 11 2004, 04:14 PM
I wasn't surprised with his responce to that Aztek question either...  Hopefully the Torrent will replace the Aztek....  But like he said sales were up, so as long as that happens, it probably won't be leaving. ; <_<  :(
Sales to fleet have to be a huge chunk of it. Last time I went to rent a car, there were more Azteks on the lot than I've ever seen in one place. :p [/b][/quote]
Really!??! Where at? Enterprise?
 

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Thanks for the interview, on par with major magazines, very informative... except he was a little sketchy on the Torrent thing, I thought that was a done deal from an article I read recently.
 
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