GM Marketing Chief: No Need to Shed Brands

NEW YORK General Motors Corp. marketing chief Mark LaNeve tells Ward's he is comfortable with the current portfolio of brands and sees no need to shed any divisions. Responding to suggestions from analysts and Kirk Kerkorian advisor Jerome B. York that GM should sell off some of its brands, LaNeve says he is confident each of the auto maker's marques can operate profitably. LaNeve stopped here amidst

NEW YORK — General Motors Corp. marketing chief Mark LaNeve tells Ward's he is comfortable with the current portfolio of brands and sees no need to shed any divisions.

Responding to suggestions from analysts and Kirk Kerkorian advisor Jerome B. York that GM should sell off some of its brands, LaNeve says he is confident each of the auto maker's marques can operate profitably.

LaNeve stopped here amidst a coast-to-coast tour to brief dealers on GM's new pricing philosophy.

York “wants us to move fast,” LaNeve says, adding he agrees with that sense of urgency. But he says he “would rather have eight brands than less.”

LaNeve says the trick will be in how well GM manages its portfolio going forward, noting each brand provides significant volume.

GM's current position is “better than Ford (Motor Co.'s market) share per brand,” he says.

LaNeve insists each of its brands will make a profit and promises each will have a distinct identity, with vehicles that do not overlap those of other divisions.

“It's up to us to manage the brands properly,” LaNeve says. “We can manage this by bringing Pontiac, GMC and Buick together.”

The three brands now operate as one retail channel, and LaNeve says it is important for the three to have products that are not identical to Chevrolet's models.

But he acknowledges there is still some duplication, as with the Pontiac Torrent and Chevrolet Equinox.

“Ideally, you wouldn't have a Torrent and an Equinox,” LaNeve says. But he notes Pontiac needed another cross/utility vehicle quickly after the demise of the Aztek, and creating the Torrent was the most expedient solution. He says the Torrent is off to a good sales start.

LaNeve also reaffirms GM's desire to retain Hummer, despite calls by York and others to sell it.

“Hummer is a strong brand,” LaNeve says. “As we expand into smaller configurations, it will gain volume.”

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