GM Looks to Shed Saturn, Saab and Hummer, Reduce Pontiac Models

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After a first read of the business plan GM submitted to Congress in hopes of securing $12 billion in federally backed low-interest loans, it appears there are some major changes afoot that will drastically impact car shoppers.

GM says it will now focus on research and development for Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC. Pontiac will become a “niche” brand, selling fewer models in joint Buick, GMC and Pontiac dealerships. We’d guess that would mean forgoing rebadged vehicles like the G6 sedan, G5 compact, Torrent SUV and the just-introduced G3 subcompact, and focusing on the G8, Vibe and Solstice.

Hummer had already been put up for sale under a “strategic review,” and now GM confirms that Saab is in the same boat.

Saturn is the tricky brand to unload, though.

The plan says GM will explore alternatives for the brand and talk with dealers about their relationships. This sounds to us like the company is looking at closing down the brand altogether, similar to what it did with Oldsmobile. Shuttering Oldsmobile cost GM more than $1 billion in 2004 due to dealer franchise laws.

Saturn sold 8,130 total units in November. That’s fewer than the number of Escape compact SUVs Ford sold (10,019) during that same time period. It’s also eerily similar to the monthly sales of Oldsmobile in 2003, just before it closed. Olds sold 9,165 vehicles in July 2003. That same month, Saturn sold 26,415 plastic-body-paneled cars.

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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