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Robotech 06-05-2017 03:32 PM

What could have been...
 
An interesting (and OLD...way old) article on what could have been with Pontiac. A piece from the article:

Quote:

So now we had Buick, GMC, Cadillac, and Chevrolet, and then, I wanted, badly wanted, to keep Pontiac, because Pontiac was on its way back, and it had been mismanaged for a number of years, you know, with 'rebuild excitement,' and the excitement was only in the plastic body cladding, mechanically there was nothing about Pontiac in the 90s that would make your heart beat faster. And with the Solstice and Solstice Coupe, and with the Pontiac G8, which was a great car. We were embarked on a strategy of making Pontiac different from the rest of GM in that Pontiac wouldn't get any front wheel drive cars, they would all be rear-wheel drive, and the next G6, was going to use the architecture of the Cadillac ATS, it was going to be a 3-series sized rear-wheel Pontiac, with basically the Cadillac ATS 'de-premiumized,' obviously, a lot of the cost taken out, but still fundamentally that architecture.
The whole article:

Feds Told GM To Drop Pontiac Or No Bailout, Ex-GM Exec Says

It's funny because ever since the time of the bailout I've been saying the same thing. Pontiac was finally on the right track and had just run out of time before they could make it work. Imagine an American brand selling nothing but RWD vehicles. Damn.

mbeardsley 06-05-2017 05:18 PM

I think that the same thing could be said of Saturn as well.

Mismanaged for years with nothing exciting to sell, but finally was getting it right with some quality new products.

Unfortunately, it was "too little - too late", and since SOMETHING had to be cut, it did really make sense to drop Pontiac and Saturn.

Personally, I would have preferred that they drop GMC (as they just seem like unreasonably over-priced Chevys), but I can appreciate how profitable they are (though I don't really understand who actually pays extra for a GMC).

I also think that if they really wanted to, they could have kept the Kappa by rebadging it as a Buick, but again, GM was in a pretty desperate situation and had to make some harsh and painful cuts.

Robotech 06-05-2017 11:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mbeardsley (Post 1190570)
I think that the same thing could be said of Saturn as well.

Mismanaged for years with nothing exciting to sell, but finally was getting it right with some quality new products.

Unfortunately, it was "too little - too late", and since SOMETHING had to be cut, it did really make sense to drop Pontiac and Saturn.

I agree to a point but Saturn was becoming US Opel. Some of the designs were getting there and the Sky and Astra were two of the best but I'm not sure it could have been saved.

Looking at what has happened with the Camaro, the Mustang, the Charger and Challenger...a redesigned GTO and a Pontiac really focused on RWD platforms (especially if they did some sporty hatch based on the Kappa platform) would have done very well.

Quote:

Personally, I would have preferred that they drop GMC (as they just seem like unreasonably over-priced Chevys), but I can appreciate how profitable they are (though I don't really understand who actually pays extra for a GMC).

I also think that if they really wanted to, they could have kept the Kappa by rebadging it as a Buick, but again, GM was in a pretty desperate situation and had to make some harsh and painful cuts.
Agree about a Buick Sky...sad they didn't do it. It could have done for Buick domestically what the Sky was doing for Saturn.

About GMC, one word...Denali. The Denali trim level of the GMC Yukon and Sierra line is a whole different level than even the top of the line Tahoe, Suburban, and Silverado. I sold GMCs for a few months and memorized many of the differences. I sold a life long Suburban owner on a Yukon XL Denali. Larger 6.1 V8, full time AWD, All Wheel steering (did you know a 2003 Sierra extra cab Denali has the same turning radius as a 2003 Honda Accord?), heated front and rear plush leather seats...all these things were exclusive to the Denali line at that time. Also, the warranties on all GMCs were longer than their Chevy counterparts. There were a lot of other little things but it's been 14 years since I sold them. GMC is to Chevy as Buick is to Chevy.

Oh, and I drive a GMC. LOL

LAC Sky 06-06-2017 08:38 AM

Being an old Pontiac guy from way back when, the demise of the excitement was to mismanagement and boring designs imo. I tend to agree with it was on the way back, with the solstice & coupe, the GTO and G8, with others on the way per the article and Big Bob.

To me at least it's what my generation grew up with, the big sedan with a V8 powered rear wheel cruiser. My dad owned a 53 or 54 Pontiac, so I remember it sort of, until he bought the 63 Impala SS, and took the family on a cross country tour of America one summer. A trip of a life time, to see the U.S.A. in a Chevy. The excitement brand of the muscle cars of the 60's was in full swing back the, gas was dirt cheap. Big block power with the room for a family of five if you needed it. Today things are different as we all know. New regulations, restrictions, materials and usage by the public, the buying power of the consumer was how your line up changed or didn't. You went with the flow, or got left behind by the increased sales of your competitors.

Race day. Sunday... Sunday.. win on Sunday, sale on Monday. So what is the new model on the showroom floor of the local dealer. Let's drive by and take a look. See the same thing or something different? What can I afford that fits the bill. We still do that today, abit for fwd eco hybrids. 2 door coupes seemed to disappear from the market, the four door was and is the only option, for the most part. Still it is you and your money, our choice not the mfg. or the salesman. Buy what you like and can afford. A Kappa or big ole pick up, a family cruiser with room for all our stuff, to the eco box that gets 48 mpg. $$$$
Ours or the mfg? The government's money during the bailout that saved some companies, cuts had to be made somewhere and Pontiac and Saturn were on the chopping block. Many car mfgs. have disappeared over the years through out our history and life times. It is what it is.

I read this article, thanks for posting it Robo, as my mind is on up coming Father's Day, and the Nationals trip. I took a few things away from it, that IF Pontiac was still around what would we be seeing in the showroom. Another version of a Chevy or devalued Caddy? Yes some of the models could have been saved, and rebadged. Could have or should have we will never know.


$$$$ still comes down to that:


* but the Feds said "yeah, let's just, how much money have you made on pontiac in the last 10 years?" and the answer was "nothing." So, it goes. And, when the guy who is handing you the check for 53 billion dollars says I don't want pontiac, drop pontiac or you don't get the money, it doesn't take you very long to make up your mind.

* So, I agree with you, I think Pontiac was a great, wonderful history, mismanaged for a number of years in the 80s and 90s and it was clearly on its way back, and we were starting to see a very good customer base in solstices and especially in the G8, which was favorably compared in a lot of road tests to the BMW 5-series, people would say dynamically the car is as good and it's more powerful and way cheaper, but that was too bad. but you can't go through Chapter 11 without some really harmful effects.

Billions of dollars. Hell for that much, I'd sell my Kappa. Here's your check, here are the keys, have a nice permagrin. I never knew this car had that much excitement in it. Why did they ever get rid of it in the first place? Go ask GM or the government they know.

As good as a BMW 5 series... come on now. Big Bob worked for them so he must know something about the brand and line up. More powerful and cheaper, that grabs the consumer and his buying powers attention right from the get go. Still up to you whether you want that 5 series or something different.. like the Kappa. I bought it cause it fit my budget, it fit my excitement factor for driving, it is not something you see everyday out there among the masses of what the mfg's or the government thinks I should be buying or driving. To each his own I guess. From a car that gets you from point A to point B, to one that puts a permagrin on your face, it was my choice, my bank account to what I am driving today, not the salesman or mfg. and certainly not the government.


LAC

lorennerol 06-06-2017 11:09 AM

I grew up in southeast Michigan. From the first days I can remember, in the early 70s, I remember hearing "these are tough times for the Big 3". To the extent, over the next four decades, that things weren't tough, it was short-lived and never made up for the massive losses.

GM gobbled up all those brands and became a lumbering, clumsy, giant mess. They never leveraged the brands, instead reducing most of them to reselling slightly re-clad versions of the same cars.

For nearly a decade out of college I worked for a Fortune 100 company. Any "economies of scale" that may have existed (and there were few...our highest margin work was for other parts of the company, not external customers) were FAR outweighed by the massive internal friction that existed in the form of politics and red tape. 90% of my energy was spent navigating the morass of those two things to get approval to do the right thing, and 10% was spent on actual improvements (I was an engineer). Like GM, for those ten years the company rarely, if ever, made a profit. But boy did the A-level execs get paid a lot, even during a multi-year salary freeze.

Two perfect examples are the Kappa and the Fiero. Bob Lutz and Hulki Aldikacti (respectively) spent huge amounts of energy, time, and political capital just to get the cars approved. Lutz was more successful than Hulki in getting the car to showrooms in the form he envisioned, but he still make sacrifices to hit arbitrary numbers that, in the long run, cost GM repeat sales; far more money that they would have spent to do more things right on the Kappa.

Meanwhile, this much smaller, far nimbler, much less fat company called Tesla has come along and stood the auto industry on its head. They are certainly not perfect, but it does show, I think, what can get done when employee energy is more focused on getting things done rather than getting permission to do things, and the fat is cut out of the system.

The_Ghost 06-06-2017 11:29 AM

I know some of you are on the Solstice Forum and some aren't....Here's some interesting reads:

An interesting article that's been floating around Facebook the last month. If you read it apparently Fiat is lobbying GM to take them over. Pontiac would come back with Dodge feeder cars... New Scenarios Emerge for Cash-Short Fiat Chrysler | Automobile Magazine

lorennerol 06-06-2017 11:46 AM

Those two options are utterly horrendous. GM taking on more unprofitable brands, infrastructure, union contracts, debt, etc. etc. is exactly what they don't need. Bigger is not always better.

MattM 06-06-2017 12:24 PM

I totally agree with you on this!

Before I bought the Sky I was seriously looking at an all blacked out 5.7 litre GTO! I don't know what it was, but god did I love the look of those cars! It was weird too because it looked like Pontiac too the previous styling of the Monte Carlo (97) version and pumped it up then put a 5.7 litre in it! It was a great car...

GM always had a few cars that could have been extremely amazing. I always thought the 1987-1992 Chevy Z24 would have been amazing with a V8 as well, but they put the front wheel drive 3.1 v6s in it and the Monte Carlo. Pontiac or Saturn could have been the companies that took those bodies and made them performance based with v8s etc., but just started doing great stuff right before the end..

Pontiac really did do that GTO right imo.

MattM 06-06-2017 12:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lorennerol (Post 1190714)
I grew up in southeast Michigan. From the first days I can remember, in the early 70s, I remember hearing "these are tough times for the Big 3". To the extent, over the next four decades, that things weren't tough, it was short-lived and never made up for the massive losses.

GM gobbled up all those brands and became a lumbering, clumsy, giant mess. They never leveraged the brands, instead reducing most of them to reselling slightly re-clad versions of the same cars.

For nearly a decade out of college I worked for a Fortune 100 company. Any "economies of scale" that may have existed (and there were few...our highest margin work was for other parts of the company, not external customers) were FAR outweighed by the massive internal friction that existed in the form of politics and red tape. 90% of my energy was spent navigating the morass of those two things to get approval to do the right thing, and 10% was spent on actual improvements (I was an engineer). Like GM, for those ten years the company rarely, if ever, made a profit. But boy did the A-level execs get paid a lot, even during a multi-year salary freeze.

Two perfect examples are the Kappa and the Fiero. Bob Lutz and Hulki Aldikacti (respectively) spent huge amounts of energy, time, and political capital just to get the cars approved. Lutz was more successful than Hulki in getting the car to showrooms in the form he envisioned, but he still make sacrifices to hit arbitrary numbers that, in the long run, cost GM repeat sales; far more money that they would have spent to do more things right on the Kappa.

Meanwhile, this much smaller, far nimbler, much less fat company called Tesla has come along and stood the auto industry on its head. They are certainly not perfect, but it does show, I think, what can get done when employee energy is more focused on getting things done rather than getting permission to do things, and the fat is cut out of the system.

I agree with you 100%!!! I work for a Billion Dollar a year government agency, and the bureaucracy that exists is stifling! My job has been to increase internal communications/employee engagement/collaboration, but it's friggen impossible in some cases to do anything!

I literally had to CREATE a completely new entity (nonprofit 501(c)4) to be able to accomplish something as small as creating an internal employee website!

People blame unions in this country for troubles etc.. They couldn't be more wrong. What hurts government and big companies for that matter is middle and upper management. No-one focuses on a rarely heard term (LEADERSHIP) and instead only worry about micromanaging everything to death! Hell, even colleges focus on only management and not real leadership that actually motivates employees to innovate, and gives employees ownership of their work. Too many people only caring about how they feel or how they themselves are doing, and not about how the company is doing and what's best for everyone (company, and customers).

It's sad really....

marlboromike 06-06-2017 05:44 PM

I remember viewing the million dollar golf course the Automobile Union owned. Does any other Union own a golf course? AND ONLY FOR THE BOSSES. And how they would lavishly take their trips...all this during the bankruptcy.

Regarding the Saturn Sky...remember the rumor that the Sky was going to be built in the Corvette Plant. That was supposed to happen in 2012. Just saying.

And what ever happened to the remote control Sky which was supposed to appear for Christmas 2006?

MattM 06-06-2017 06:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by marlboromike (Post 1190778)
I remember viewing the million dollar golf course the Automobile Union owned. Does any other Union own a golf course? AND ONLY FOR THE BOSSES ONLY. And how they would lavishly take their trips...all this during the bankruptcy.

Regarding the Saturn Sky...remember the rumor that the Sky was going to be built in the Corvette Plant. That was supposed to happen in 2012. Just saying.

And what ever happened to the remote control Sky which was supposed to appear for Christmas 2006?

Hmmm... Well.... A union is a legitimate nonprofit that raises money from member dues. If the Union had a golf course its because the Union wanted a golf course, and would have no impact whatsoever on whether or not GM went bankrupt. If the Union's members didn't want the bosses to be the only ones allowed on the course then the Union members could have voted on that. But again, this has absolutely nothing to do with GM's bankruptcy.

marlboromike 06-06-2017 08:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MattM (Post 1190794)
Hmmm... Well.... A union is a legitimate nonprofit that raises money from member dues. If the Union had a golf course its because the Union wanted a golf course, and would have no impact whatsoever on whether or not GM went bankrupt. If the Union's members didn't want the bosses to be the only ones allowed on the course then the Union members could have voted on that. But again, this has absolutely nothing to do with GM's bankruptcy.

Do u believe the membership of any Union would have approved such a purchase...really! Are the workers that stupid?

lorennerol 06-06-2017 08:23 PM

There were abuses on both sides for a long, long time. As I've posted elsewhere, GM paid Wagoner around $100,000,000 over ten years or so, during which time GM never once turned an annual profit and lost over $50,000,000,000.

At the same time, I knew of people with UAW jobs at GM who never went to them. Other people clocked them in and out for years, and they collected a paycheck from GM while working other jobs.

Bottom line for me: If GM can't figure out how to make what they already have wildly successful and consistently profitable, they have no business buying more unprofitable, dysfunctional businesses on the ignorant hope that getting bigger will somehow make a mess less messy.

MattM 06-07-2017 12:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by marlboromike (Post 1190818)
Do u believe the membership of any Union would have approved such a purchase...really! Are the workers that stupid?

You misunderstand what I said. If membership did not approve of the purchase so much then they could have voted the leadership out. They do have that ability.

Lorennerol, I'm sure there were anecdotal instances where stuff like a union member covering for another member happened, but if management what doing the job management should have been doing they would have found and corrected that. Clearly, the poor management there allowed stuff like that to happen.

lorennerol 06-07-2017 12:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MattM (Post 1191178)
Lorennerol, I'm sure there were anecdotal instances where stuff like a union member covering for another member happened, but if management what doing the job management should have been doing they would have found and corrected that. Clearly, the poor management there allowed stuff like that to happen.

Some of the things that GM, Chrysler, and Ford allowed into the union contracts were stunning, in terms of allowing the union to veto structural changes within the company, protecting underperforming union members, etc. And while it was certainly myopic for management to allow such language into the contracts, it was equally myopic for union leaders to force the company to keep ****ty employees and make other choices that protected handfuls of jobs in the short term at the inevitable expense to everyone of the bankruptcy.

Said another way, the likely reason that person was allowed to collect a paycheck for work they didn't do for years was because the contract under which he worked made it terribly time, money, and energy consuming to fire him.


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