GM will shrink to four core brands in North America


Henderson’s appointment as GM’s North American chief makes the future of several other high-ranking execs uncertain

Henderson’s appointment as GM’s North American chief makes the future of several other high-ranking execs uncertain

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One of General Motors’ biggest criticisms is the number of different brands under its roof, which ends up seeing it sell similar models that often compete with one another in the same segments. In its efforts to secure its share of a federal bailout, GM said it now intends to focus its U.S. product and marketing resources on four core brands, namely Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC. These four brands accounted for 83% of GM's total sales volume in the United States last year.

That leaves Hummer, Saab, Saturn and Pontiac in an uneasy state. GM has already confirmed that it is looking for a buyer for its Hummer brand, and that Saturn was also under review. Pontiac, meanwhile, is expected to be reduced to just a few models, while Saab could also be sold-off or axed altogether.

Speaking with Automotive News, GM COO Fritz Henderson said the company is conducting a strategic review of its Saab and Hummer brands and that the "status quo" for the Saturn brand will not work. "We need to do something different with Saturn," he said.

As for Saab, Henderson confirmed that GM was working with the Swedish government to help the brand remain viable, however, he stressed that Saab was “not a U.S. strategy.”

Pontiac, meanwhile, will "shrink substantially," Henderson said. Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show last week, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz also said Pontiac will eventually be reduced to just five models – the G8, G5, Vibe, Solstice and Solstice Coupe.

Part of GM’s downsizing efforts will also see its 6,600 dealer network shrunk to around 4,700 dealers by 2012.

Finally, Henderson warned that if GM doesn’t receive the $5.4 billion second instalment in government aid the carmaker would run out of money by March. The payment was originally due last week but was delayed by this week’s change in administration.
 
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