Auto Service World
News   March 24, 2005   by Auto Service World

Buick and Pontiac May Be Sacrificed to Save GM

General Motors, which issued a shock profit warning last week and has been losing market share, may phase out one of its weaker car brands if sales fail to meet projections, company vice chairman Bob Lutz said on Wednesday.
GM’s Buick and Pontiac are both “damaged brands” due to lack of investment over the years, and GM is working to correct that with an array of new vehicles coming to market, Lutz told a Morgan Stanley automotive conference in New York.
But if some of its brands fail to meet sales projections, “then we would have to take a look at a phase-out. I hope we don’t have to do that. What we’ve got to do is keep the brands we’ve got.”
Financial analysts have said for years that the world’s largest automaker has too many brands to support, even with the gradual phase-out of the Oldsmobile brand a few years ago, particularly with its weaker U.S. sales.
Sales for both Pontiac and Buick have lagged in recent years. But GM is in the midst of a $3 billion investment in new vehicles for Buick and Pontiac showrooms and they will have four new vehicles this year, including the Solstice roadster, Torrent SUV and the G6 mid-sized coupe.
GM, which last week cut its earnings outlook for 2005 by as much as 80 percent, posted a 6 percent drop in U.S. sales for the first two months of the year. GM’s U.S. market share fell to about 25 percent, far below its share of 27.5 percent for all of 2004.