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2/22/2006

The General Kills Off the Goat – Again!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 11:11 am

[Originally posted at Okie on the Lam]

GM cancelles the GTO - Again
The decision by General Motors to cancel the Pontiac GTO after this current ‘06 model year pales in significance to other things going on around the world, but to old GM fans, like myself, it’s another sign that what was once the largest, most powerful corporation in the world, is on life-support – and as hard as it is to imagine, just might not make it. Automotive News had the announcement yesterday.

General Motors has told Pontiac dealers that it will discontinue the GTO coupe at the end of this model year. GM will make the last deliveries of the vehicle to dealers by the end of September, sources close to Pontiac say.
(…)
When Pontiac launched the GTO in 2003, it projected 18,000 annual sales. The vehicle was criticized for bland styling, and some fans of the original GTO complained that it lacked nostalgic styling cues.

A Pontiac spokesman confirms the GTO will be discontinued after the 2006 model year.


Eric Bryant at AutoBlog
expressed his feelings over the canceled GTO like this:

In this case, I feel a bit sorry for GM. It did exactly what its fans wanted it to - bring over one of the magnificent rear-wheel-drive Holden products from Australia. Pontiac never quite figured out the marketing, though; it was too expensive and sophisticated for the muscle-car crowd, too GM-ish to attract buyers away from other $35K coupes, and of course its bland styling was glaringly apparent to anyone who ever laid eyes on an ‘05 Mustang. Let’s not forget the nasty price-gouging that occurred early on, either.

I spent many an hour as a teen pouring over the wonderful Pontiac illustrations that made their mid-to-late-’60s catalogs so special, longing for a GTO in my driveway. I had a buddy with a ‘66, a classmate with a ‘67 – the closest that I came was a ‘67 Le Mans coupe, Sprint edition, with the rather outrageous overhead-cam six, floor-mounted shifter and a Rochester Quadra-Jet 4-barrel carb, (huge-monster secondaries!) – yeah, the same one I macked the big-white horse with.

2010 CamaroAll last year the General was saying that an ‘08 Goat would be coming, with all new (more GTO-esque) styling, based on the Zeta platform being developed by Holden in Australia, but in the same announcement as the cancellation of the ‘07 model, they seem to be backing off the launch of a new model – the weak US dollar a likely culprit.

There is no replacement coupe planned at this time and because of the strong Australian and weak U.S. dollar, the GTO had to be priced thousands over where GM originally wanted it – in the mid-twenties, the source says. “It never did as much volume as we had hoped,” the source says.

Pontiac is considering a replacement in the lineup for a RWD performance vehicle, but does not have anything to announce yet, Hopson says.

Zeta is supposed to spawn a new Camaro (red car above) for 2010 as well. With Chrysler doing so well with the 300C, Charger, Magnum and the upcoming Challenger, GM had better get its collective you-know-what together and join the rear-wheel-drive party before it’s all over – again.

4/8/2005

The Empire Strikes Back - GM Pulls Ads From LA Times

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 9:47 am

In this AM’s Automotive News email wrap up and in the online edition of the Los Angeles Times it was announced that General Motors is suspending ALL advertising in the LA Times over what it calls “factual errors and misrepresentations in the newspaper” according to a company spokesman. AN goes on to say: [Reg. required]

GM did not specify what spurred it to pull its advertising, but the paper’s auto writer Dan Neil on Wednesday published a critical column about the company’s brand strategy and called on GM to “dump” Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner.

The LA Times response today to yesterday’s pullout by the General includes the following: [Reg. required]

A GM executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday’s review of the Pontiac G6 by Times Pulitzer Prize-winning automobile critic Dan Neil was particularly offensive.

Neil wrote that “GM is a morass of a business case” and called for the ouster of GM’s chairman and chief executive, Rick Wagoner. Among other things, Neil took the company to task for not more aggressively developing fuel-efficient cars and focusing instead on SUVs.

The Dan Neil critical bombast that appeared in Wednesday’s Highway1 section was certainly biting and hyper critical, especially of the newish Pontiac G6, which Neil describes as:

The G6 is not an awful car. It’s entirely adequate. But plainly, adequate is not nearly enough.
(…)
You want excitement from the “Excitement” division? Try to get this thing to turn in a sharp corner.

Bah.

This is an uncompetitive product, an assertion borne out not by my say-so but by sales numbers.

To be fair to the Pontiac, he has a couple of nice things to say about it, amid a plethora of negativity. To be fair to Dan Neil, on most of the points that he covers, I admit, regretfully, that I agree.

You see, when the G6 appeared at the Detroit Auto Show a few years ago it was a stunner, both inside and out, heralding a Bob Lutz driven rennaisance of design for the Pontiac division. With Bob’s track record at Chrysler for bringing incredible show cars to market with a major part of their mojo intact, I, and many others, were expecting him to do so here. But like the ill-fated first generation Olds Aurora and the current Buick LaCrosse, the G6 just didn’t make it out of the “clinics” with its excitement DNA on board.

Bob seems to be directly answering Dan Neil’s call for his head in the most current post at the Fastlane blog, which posted yesterday:

Some of you may may remember my opening salvo for this blog back in January: “After years of reading and reacting to the automotive press it is finally my turn to put the shoe on the other foot. In the age of the Internet, anyone can be a journalist.”

He goes on to assure his readers that his participation in the GM blogging experiment will definitely continue, and that those in power at the General

hear your words loud and clear. We’re redoubling our efforts to build great cars and trucks and we’ll continue to talk about them, right here.

What’s most interesting are the comments, where over-and-over Fastlane readers are pleading with GM to build world-class vehicles so that they can justify buying American, again . . . or still! This writer heartily agrees with that sentiment. I’ve been car shopping for several months now, and the only vehicle in the GM inventory that does anything for me is the Cadillac CTS-"V", which I simply cannot afford. The last two vehicles I’ve leased have been a supercharged Buick Regal GS and a supercharged Pontiac Bonneville SSEI, and both are discontinued, the Regal gone as of the ‘05 model year and the Bonne is gone as of this summer. Maybe I’ll just buy-out the Bonne off lease and sit tight for a few years while/if the company gets itself sorted out. The only Ford product that has any interest for me is the new Mustang (too small for our needs) and Chrysler is a German company, not a domestic any more.

Tom at The True Talk Blog also weighs in on the issue:

Is blogging going to save GM? Nah. But Bob Lutz is showing he’s going to do everything possible to do so, even if it means doing something stupid like blogging.

Swade at Trollhattan blog seconds the emotion:

If you haven’t been tuning in, Bob’s blog is a great forum for not only hearing him address some issues that get twisted in the press a little, but it’s also a great place to read comments from GM customers. People just like you and me.

And Neville Hobson at NevOn blog discusses the effectiveness of Fastlane as a communication tool for the General:

GM made it pretty clear from the outset that the primary purpose of the blog is to engage with customers and car enthusiasts about one topic - GM’s cars. And they have stuck to that goal. Judging from the many comments to every post, that’s what visitors want to talk to GM about. Indeed, just about the only comments that aren’t about the subject matter of a particular post are those by communicators commenting about the blog or the podcasts.

Ok Bob, if you are actually in charge of product worldwide for GM and haven’t just been given a sideways promotion into obscurity, go out there and kick ass, take names, and get the job done! With the resources and depth of talent that GM has at its disposal combined with a corporate commitment to world class products at all price levels, there is no reason that General Motors cannot survive and thrive. Just look within at your Cadillac division. Ten years ago, who would have ever thought a Caddy would again be cool . . . fast . . . and desirable?

4/1/2005

Lutz Sets Record Straight - GM/Ford Share Slips

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 5:47 pm

A little over a week ago business pages in newspapers across the country, as well as trade rags like Automotive News and consumer mags like Autoweek all ran stories about GM’s Co-Chair Bob Lutz’s statement that depending upon future sales results, the General might actually “kill-off” either Pontiac or Buick. This week on his GM blog Fastlane, he set the record strait and backed way off that statement.

Many of you probably read something to the effect that “GM is considering shedding a brand.” Let me say it now, for the world to hear: No, we have no plans to shed a brand. Period.

To my ears, that was great news, I root for the General. But two items that showed up today portend not such good news for the home town boys.

In two different stories, related news shows that our domestic manufacturers have some extremely high hurdles ahead of them due to escalating gasoline prices and declining market share, due to, you guessed it, high gas prices!

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Regular gasoline pump prices in the United States may average as high as $2.50 by Memorial Day, shattering the records as futures prices climb to new peaks, analysts said on Friday.

U.S. retail gasoline is already running above $2.15 a gallon, well beyond last spring’s peak of $2.05, according to government and industry surveys.

&

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F) posted weaker March U.S. vehicle sales on Friday, losing further market share to Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. <7203.T and Nissan Motor Co. (7201) as high gasoline prices hurt sales of fuel-thirsty sport utility vehicles.

The two biggest Japanese auto makers recorded double-digit sales gains and their best-month ever, as their aggressive expansion into new segments of the market and fresher lineup of cars and trucks wooed customers away from the U.S. auto makers .

The exodus by car buyers, out of U.S. brands and into those of their foreign rivals, is a worrisome trend for Detroit, where Ford and GM have been struggling to revive profits in their automotive operations.

I love big cars, always have, even though I have owned more than my share of Fiats, Mazdas and small BMWs. I drive a Pontiac Bonneville SSEI at the moment, and it does get about 23-26 mpg on the freeway, but on surface streets, where I drive the most, it struggles to return 12.5 per gallon of premium! That’s wasn’t fun at 2 bucks per, and will be dreadful if/when gas hits $3 later this season, and it most likely will! My lease is up in a month . . . what to get now? There’s a question for you!

[Update: 04/02]
Similar discussions can be found at True Talk Blog, where after meeting Bob Lutz at the Auto Show Tom asks, is there still time for GM to make a comback? While at Auto Muse, E.L. Eversman comments on how detructive soundbites can be.

2/15/2005

The Summer “Solstice” - A Real Deal!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 6:33 pm

Today on the GM corporate blog, Fastlane, Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz announced the final pricing for the new Pontiac Solstice:

When Solstice goes on sale this summer, it will, officially, be priced at $19,995 — and that includes the $575 destination charge. You heard it here first.
And this is for no “stripper” model as it will feature a five-speed manual transmission, 18-inch wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, a glass rear window instead of plastic, and a CD-player — all standard equipment.

solstice425.jpg
Solstice concept at the 2003 LA Auto Show — photo: ABDesign

Now what we are really interested in is the GXP version that we hope will be available not too far after launch. Please, Bob, don’t make us wait a year for that one!

1/27/2005

Pontiac, maybe there’s life after all!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 6:03 pm

[Welcome Fastlane visitors! Take a minute and read our story on Cadillac and then let us know which performance car you would recommend to our friend.]

I am a long time Pontiac enthusiast and was encouraged today to discover on Bob Lutz’s Blog, some insight into the marque’s immediate future. Seems like there is a lot of great new product coming out in the next few years.

I hope they don’t kill the Bonneville as a model name, it would be really cool if they made it a high-performance sports wagon like the Dodge Magnum Hemi! Hopefully they will get the next GTO right, style-wise as the performance is certainly there right now, especially with the new 6.0L powerplant!

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