Pontiac G8 goes away, and with it a short-lived hit for GM

Posted by: David Welch on July 07, 2009

G8.jpg

Here’s an example of throwing the baby out with the bath water. As General Motors barrels through bankruptcy and ditches the long-troubled Pontiac brand, along with it goes the G8 sports sedan. What a shame. The car started in price at $28,000 and the sticker price got close to $40,000 if you bought the high-powered GXP model. When is the last time a Pontiac sold for that kind of sticker price? You’d have to sell two G6 coupes to get that kind of money.

What’s more is that the cars were selling pretty well, especially considering how dismal this car market is. Sports car fans loved the roomy sedan that could be had with a 256-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 or the 361-hp 6-liter and 4-2-hp 6.2-liter V-8 engines. It’s far better than the GTO was when it came back in 2004. Motor heads snapped up the G8 models as GM prepared to shut down production. Its Australian Holden unit made the last G8 in June.

Sure that last-minute rush pushed sales up. Still, G8 sales rose 150% last month. Pontiac, which everyone knows is dying, sold nearly 16,000 G8s this year. That’s more than Acura sold of its top-selling TL sedan and Infiniti sold of its G37 sedan. In other words, GM had a sporty sedan that was appointed with luxury amenities and sold at top-shelf prices. And out it goes.

I asked a few executives if they might bring it back as a Chevy or a Buick. They would sell a lot more of them at Chevy dealers and inject a bit of passion into a Buick showroom. But so far, it seems not to be. The business case for bringing cars from Australia to the U.S. is pretty tough. But for a company that needs every hit car and all the buzz it can muster, it seems that GM might find a way to keep this one. For those looking for a great sports car, there are some left at Pontiac dealers. And those dealers are willing to haggle.

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Reader Comments

Robin P

July 8, 2009 12:30 AM

It's a shame. Actually I haven't driven one, but the G8 for sure is a looker – nice styling and tight proportions, plus inside is very well set.
GM could easily rebadge it as an Impala; go and ask for it, Chevy fans!

blowfish

July 8, 2009 03:09 AM

Is surprisingly this G8 sold like hot cakes. I suppose they will find a way to sell more of this.

Jeff B

July 8, 2009 08:29 AM

More proof that our tax dollars have been wasted propping up two businesses with no clue as to what they are doing. The Chevy Impala is crap. I know. I had one. The G8 as a new Chevy Impala would be an easy win for GM -- that is, if they actually understood anything about making cars people want to buy. I now drive an 09 Malibu. It's nice -- far better than the IMpala, but it's still no Accord or Mazda6. GM is clueless.

jambo

July 8, 2009 11:19 AM

I guess the car was collataral damage.

David

July 8, 2009 11:29 AM

My last car was a 545i and my G8-GT is every bit the car the BMW was for half the price. I love this car. The really, really sad news is that it took GM 20 some years to win me back as a customer based on merit and look what happens. I've been orphaned. I would not want to be in this business.

Cori

July 8, 2009 12:07 PM

I've driven a few G8s as rental cars. Granted, that's not exactly a fair test since rentals are bare bones most of the time, but overall it's quality and performance were exactly what I'd expect from any American car: lots of cheap plastic and poor performance. Point being, sales numbers are a really poor measure of car quality.

GB

July 8, 2009 02:54 PM

FACT CHECK: According to Automotive News magazine sales of the Acura TL are 17,536. Infiniti reports 21,203 sales of the G (though in fairness, that may include some coupes.

But it is true that even if the Pontiac was selling at an OK pace, it was not profitable for the corporation and that's what all businesses need right now.

And as bad as everyone here seems to think the Impala is, it sells in large numbers to what is apparently a happy group of buyers and makes a little money. Throwing that away by calling yet another rebadge of the Holden is not a wise move financially. If it didn't turn a profit as a Pontiac, why would a lower price version for Chevy be any more lucrative?
If times were different, GM could afford this. Now, it can't.

DM

July 8, 2009 03:08 PM

@Jeff B GM year to date has sold more vehicles in the US than any other manufacturer. Blows away the theory that they don't produce vehicles people want to buy.

mike

July 8, 2009 03:09 PM

Hey Jeff B. write back when you know something to write about!

mike

July 8, 2009 03:09 PM

Hey Jeff B. write back when you know something to write about!

mike

July 8, 2009 03:09 PM

Hey Jeff B. write back when you know someting to write about!

Marc

July 8, 2009 03:18 PM

This is still "robocop" design; for all the HP and engine options the design still looks like an 8-year-old gone crazy with scoops and holes; the rest of the car is generic four door sedan. What GM needs is one or two dramatic designs (like the XLR was in its day) to capture people's hearts and imaginations. Checkbooks will follow.

Chris

July 8, 2009 03:20 PM

I totally agree....they're throwing out one of their two sweet cars...at least the Cadillac CTS-V is still around.

Matt

July 9, 2009 12:41 AM

Wow.

All this structuring, and they still haven't fired enough management in Detroit.

Detroit is a strange place. All those people, so disconnected.

Dub C

July 9, 2009 08:48 AM

Take a real good look at the Saab 9-3 2003-2007 Which GM currently owns and the G8 and you will find the roots from where the G8 came from aside from the engine the frame and body are almost identical swedish inspired.

Mike

July 9, 2009 09:23 PM

I want to purchase a G8 GT, but currently in a Hummer H3 lease ending 1/6/10, which does not qualify for the old lease pull ahead. Nobody at the dealers seem to have an idea when the next pull ahead will be

Bill

July 11, 2009 05:18 PM

I think that GM is making a "Dart mistake". I am referring to when Chrysler Corp. discontinued the Dodge Dart which was very popular for all the right reasons and replaced it with the K, which was not as good. Chrysler then went downhill to their first government bailout. Since customer brand loyalty is a potent sales influence, GM should have kept their brands and reduced the number of models in each brand, keeping those that are iconic to each brand and reducing the overlap between brands. I.e. the Pontiac G8 and the Solstice, the Buick Riviera LeSabre and Enclave, the Chevrolet Corvette, Camaro, Impala, Malibu and Cobalt, (no trucks) the Cadillac Fleetwood, DeVille and Eldorado. GMC would have all the trucks and truck-based SUVs (no crossovers)

Bill

July 11, 2009 05:18 PM

I think that GM is making a "Dart mistake". I am referring to when Chrysler Corp. discontinued the Dodge Dart which was very popular for all the right reasons and replaced it with the K, which was not as good. Chrysler then went downhill to their first government bailout. Since customer brand loyalty is a potent sales influence, GM should have kept their brands and reduced the number of models in each brand, keeping those that are iconic to each brand and reducing the overlap between brands. I.e. the Pontiac G8 and the Solstice, the Buick Riviera LeSabre and Enclave, the Chevrolet Corvette, Camaro, Impala, Malibu and Cobalt, (no trucks) the Cadillac Fleetwood, DeVille and Eldorado. GMC would have all the trucks and truck-based SUVs (no crossovers)

Sean T

July 12, 2009 04:06 PM

Hey Cori, for one thing, those were the V6 versions, and for another, the V6 versions are as fast (but more fun than) the V6 Accord, Mazda6, Camry et al. because it is RWD. The interior isn't that of a luxury car, and it doesn't cost that much.

BomberpeteNY

July 13, 2009 05:12 PM

Bill,

I know what you meant about the Dart/Valiant/Duster, but you're a little off. The K-car ACTUALLY SAVED CHRYSLER in the early 1980s.

The history goes like this: Chrysler introduced the Dodge Aspen & Plymouth Volare in fall 1975 as "stylish" updates on the Dart/Valiant/Duster platform. They were positioned as "luxury compacts" to compete with the then-hot Ford Granada.

Sales were good, and in spring 1976, Chrysler discontinued the Dart/Valiant/Duster. Right as that happened, the Aspen/Volare cars turned out to be the biggest lemons every built. Everything fell apart on them, at a time when Chrysler's quality was already the worst of Detroit's Big Three. At the time, that was saying a lot as all Detroit products were awful by today's standards.

In late 1978 Chrysler hired Lee Iacocca to turn things around. The front-drive K-car was already on the drawing board at that point, but there was no money to develop it. And within the first few months of 1979, car sales collapsed.

In Summer 1979, Chrysler got nearly $3 billion in Federal guaranteed loans. This funded the more competitive K-cars, the Dodge Aries/Plymouth Reliant. They debuted in Fall 1980 to decent success, replacing the awful Aspen/Volare. This pretty much saved Chrysler. In 1983,the platform was used to launch the minivan, which was even more successful. There were several ups and downs after that, leading up to this year's bankruptcy and Fiat takeover.

john M Stonham

July 21, 2009 07:37 AM

Australia has a free trade agreement with the USA let them
sell the cars that US. wants because they will buy as much
back as there small economy will allow, ie car parts etc.

Rod

July 22, 2009 12:28 AM

I have owned a 70 Hemi Cuda, a 65 Vette, and know own a 08 G8 GT. Of all the performance cars I have owned the G8 is the best all around car of them all. The interior doesnt have many options but you buy a performance car for the performance not the options. I paid $34K for mine Show me another car for that price with the power and handiling of the G8 and I might be interested. There is rumor that GM may bring back the G8 as a Chevrole Caprice. God I hope so cause this is the best engineered full sixe sedan that is affordable that Gm has ever built.
Just one guys thoughts.

mike

August 22, 2009 05:13 PM

just to let u guys know it is coming back as the chevy caprice. google it.

Albert F

April 29, 2010 02:32 PM

Dude, they need to bring it back as a Caprice Classic. I would freak.

ps

April 29, 2010 09:05 PM

The fact that cars from Holden have manual trannies would give GM a great niche. Now the G8 would REALLY be an SS... 6 on the floor instead of 4 on the floor...

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Detroit bureau chief David Welch , Dexter Roberts and Ian Rowley bring daily scoop, keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business from around the globe. Read their take on such weighty issues as Detroit’s attempt at a comeback, Toyota’s quest for dominance and the search for an efficient car.

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