Buick, Pontiac, GMC… all going the way of Olds? That’s the rumor.
Not gonna happen, at least not that way. Dealer franchise laws in all those states, where dealers have wonderful lobbying power, is the biggest single impediment. It would be just too costly to execute in any reasonable timeframe.
Saturn’s no-haggle, respectful dealer service story is unraveling, so that division’s reason to live has more to do with Opel vehicles and future hybrids. But the new CAFE standards mean Chevrolet will need all the hybrids and electric vehicles GM can make.
GM is in a tough spot, they know what they need to do but are not free to take all the necessary actions. They clearly have too many divisions and nameplates, but they need a bigger crisis before the dealers, unions, states, and Feds will let it happen.
The rumor is, GM would simply not renew franchise agreements as they expire, and let B-P-GMC whither on the vine.
That said, you’re still right. The lawsuits would be stacked a thousand deep. At least.
But minimal investment by GM (one or two models each per dead-man-walking brand), many of the franchisees might be forced out of business before their franchises expire.
Could it happen? Dunno. But what else can GM do, other than file Chapter 11 while they still have some cash left?
Big car companies are going to have to innovate or die. I don’t care what the nameplate says, I care what the vehicle does. What makes a Pontiac necessary? What makes GMC pickups essential to a company that makes the Chevy S-10? Why make Buicks and Luminas? Really, I don’t care what the car is called. I want to know how much, the mpg, how many seats, and how it looks. More or less that’s it. Brand loyalty is dead to all but those who try to buy something American-made (which can now involve VW, Honda, Toyota, and not include some Fords) and those people who have stickers of Calvin micturating upon rival carmaker logos.
And those dealers? Won’t be missed.
Very well said jon
I grew up on “American Muscle Cars” and have every reason on earth to be brand loyal to GM products. But to paraphrase a lot of politicians. The company left me. I didn’t lave the company.
All I want a is decent car (truck actually)and when I’m making that purchasing decision, I don’t care if the management in the 70′s capitulated to obnoxious benefits packages to the unions. I want the best value for my dollar. If no one today has the courage to make a decision (worthy of their bloated salaries) to save the company then screw em.
General Motors can’t just kill these brands even if it decides it wants to; after all, killing off Oldsmobile cost them billions, and all they ended up with was a surprisingly-large bunch of Oldsmobile customers going elsewhere. That’s why GM recently organised all of its U.S. brands into four groups, each led by a “czar;” each group would be more independent of the others, and would develop into relatively distinct brands.
I worked for an Oldsmobile dealership that also carried GMC and Mitsubishi. When they did away with the Olds brand, we were courted by all the other lines GM encompasses including Hummer and Saab. The owner of the dealership ultimately went with Buick to replace Olds because he thought the age demographic would be equal. The owner of the dealership died before the completion of the deal and the dealership was left to the owner’s son-in-law.
Long story short, the customer base was aging and dying out. All but a few of the employees were laid off, myself included, and their sales have been back sliding ever since. The owner of this particular dealership was a wonderful man and the service was the most excellent in the area.
The thing that is going to happen to GM dealers is that the small Mom and Pop franchises are going to die out and all that will be left are the huge heartless mega-dealers who have the philosophy of buy or die. You know, the stereotypical plaid suit wearing wheeler dealers who will hound you until you buy something. GM dealers will NOT go the was of Saturn (I worked for them too, and their whole philosophy of the price on the sticker is non-negotiable is a sham. My bosses there would wheel and deal just like a normal dealer) and customer satisfaction will be down the tubes permanently.
GM needs to divorce themselves from the UAW and follow a more Japanese business model or European model. For my money, the best deals lie in the european car market. We drive a Volvo and an Audi. We have an Olds minivan too, that I got on the cheap when I worked at the dealer, but she’s not well anymore. And my Audi and Volvo have more miles on them than the van does and they’re extremely healthy. I’ve just never been impressed with American made cars. Love the German engineering! But even that couldn’t save Chrysler.
and I’m rambling now… so… I’m out.
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