By Stephen Markley on July 10, 2009
In the tumult of GM’s lightning-quick journey through bankruptcy, you may have lost track of what will happen to all the individual brands. Therefore, here’s a quick and handy guide to where each brand currently stands as the new taxpayer-owned GM emerges from Chapter 11.
Saturn: Purchased by the Penske Automotive Group, which owns NASCAR and IndyCar racing teams, as well as the U.S. distribution arm of the Smart car brand. Saturn’s five models will become the property of Penske but will still be built by GM on a contract basis. According to reports, GM will continue production of the three best-selling Saturn models for the next two years: the Aura, Vue and Outlook. It will discontinue the Sky and Astra. By 2011, GM will stop producing Saturn vehicles, and Penske will have to find a new manufacturer — possibly Renault Samsung Motors of Korea, according to Automotive News.
Saab: Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg led a consortium to purchase the ailing brand from GM. The deal is contingent on $600 million of financing from the European Investment Bank to be guaranteed by Sweden. The deal is supposed to close sometime in the third quarter of this year, but analysts have questioned whether Saab is big enough to survive regardless. It sold only 93,000 cars last year and has been unprofitable for a long time.
Hummer: There’s been much back and forth speculation about whether the Chinese government will allow heavy machinery company Tengzhong to buy the Hummer brand from GM. For now, though, the deal appears to be on. Tengzhong has said it will keep production in the U.S. and work to build more fuel-efficient versions of the gas-guzzling SUVs.
Pontiac: Perhaps the saddest story of GM’s stumble, the automaker will discontinue Pontiac entirely, and the brand’s long and storied muscle-car history will be no more. Although it was GM’s third-best-selling brand in 2008 behind Chevy and GMC, Pontiac was called a “damaged brand” by Bob Lutz as early as 2005. Buick and Cadillac were seen as more profitable core brands, leading to Pontiac’s discontinuation by 2010. Get a G8 or Vibe while you still can.
Buick: Despite being only the sixth-best-selling brand in GM’s old lineup, Buick survived the cut thanks to a focus on affordable luxury vehicles. Models like the Enclave have proved popular, while Buick maintains a large following in the expanding market of China. Thanks to these factors, the brand is seen as having been resurrected. The new, eagerly awaited Buick LaCrosse goes on sale this summer.
Cadillac: Too high-profile (not to mention high-profit) a brand to give up, Cadillac will continue to focus on luxury models under the new GM. Products like the all-new 2010 SRX crossover promise to deliver some intriguing options to the luxury market.
GMC: GM’s second-most-profitable brand, GMC, will continue to build trucks and SUVs to compete against the other heavy-hitters. It’s likely that the brand will introduce more hybrids and fuel-efficient models, like the upcoming Terrain crossover.
Chevrolet: As GM’s top-selling brand, it was clear Chevy wasn’t going anywhere. Now, all eyes will be on the extended-range, plug-in, electric Volt when it debuts in late 2010, as well as new models like the Camaro and Equinox. GM decided to move forward with the Volt despite the fact that it will probably lose money at first, but the decision probably wasn’t hard. The Volt may be one of the most anticipated cars in a generation, and its success or failure will be a major factor in GM’s future perception.