General Motors Co. is ahead of schedule in the decommissioning of its Pontiac brand, with the auto maker now expecting to run out of vehicles sometime in November, if not sooner.
GM announced in April it would shut down Pontiac at the end of 2009 as part of its restructuring plan, leaving Buick and GMC the lone survivors of what was a troika of brands the auto maker had blended together into single dealer points throughout the U.S.
“The phase-out of Pontiac was different than the phase-out of Olds,” Buick General Manager Susan Docherty says referencing the dismantling of the Oldsmobile brand that began in 2001. “The Olds phase-out took five years, during which we built 250,000 more cars. Pontiac is quicker.”
Pontiac delivered 20,000 vehicles in June, 18,000 in July and 18,000 in August. By November or December “we will be out of cars,” Docherty says. “So the wind-down is much quicker.”
Docherty says GM had 3,000 Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealers ahead of its restructuring under bankruptcy protection, and by October 2010 it will be left with 2,000 Buick-GMC dealers.
Buick's lineup will be bolstered with the revamped LaCrosse midsize sedan making its way to U.S. dealers. The LaCrosse will become Buick's new flagship after the Lucerne is phased out in mid-2011, Docherty says.
Also on tap for Buick is a midsize sedan (the Regal) targeted to hit the market in second-quarter 2010, a compact sedan and a small cross/utility vehicle insiders refer to as the baby Enclave.
Meanwhile, GM is looking for a new home for its plug-in hybrid vehicle technology that originally was to bow in the next Saturn Vue.
“We haven't cancelled the program, it's just that a plug-in isn't a fit for a small Buick,” Docherty says.