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View Full Version : Kind of sad about Pontiac dying


JonIrenicus
04-27-2009, 04:58 PM
I am virtually certain that no one cares about Pontiac here, but I actually liked some of their cars (though recently it's really been terrible the g6 looks so feminine with that tear drop shape, what self respecting guy would chose such a car?)

I thought the later Bonneville had an attractive look, and liked the grand prix, but these are already gone, and soon the entire lineup will be gone.


I am certain I will never buy a buic, not keen on any chevys except maybe the volt, cadillac is a possibility, but GMC is a definite HELL NO in terms of any possible interest from me.

So GM's chances to woo people shrink ever smaller. Pontiac could have come back though if they only released the firebird again and made it look as good and perform as well as the mazda 3.

uncle ebeneezer
04-27-2009, 08:30 PM
My dad had a Pontiac station-wagon when I was a kid, that was a hideous maroon color until he painted it bright green (with a BRUSH!!) I thought it was a 60's model. He claims that I'm mistaken and that it was Chevy that he rebuilt the engine on but the name Pontiac Tempest is really firmly rooted in my brain.

Anyways, ah the good old days:

http://www.stationwagon.com/gallery/1972_Pontiac_Grand_Safari.html

If you ever have a chance, watch the art movie Koyanisqatsi. Filmed in the 70's there's lots of slow motion shots of the "technology" of the day. Pretty awesome for nostalgia.

bjkeefe
04-27-2009, 10:05 PM
I share your general emotion, Jon, in a vestigial sort of way. I used to be a big fan of muscle cars. I remember one of the first times I thought GM was headed down the road to failure was when they started wimping out on their designs, and worse, stuck the name Grand Prix on models that totally did not deserve it. As bad as Oldsmobile cheapening their brand by calling everything they made a Cutlass of some sort, and almost as bad as Ford's Mustang II.

cragger
04-27-2009, 10:57 PM
Thing is though, having Camaro and Firebird, Buicks and Caddies for upmarket? Seems like one of each pair should go. GM has had so many redundant and overlapping divisions for a long time. Aren't Buick buyers and Olds buyers the same folks? Not a real competitive use of resources when you look at the overall product line. A smaller number of better vehicles ....

bjkeefe
04-27-2009, 11:21 PM
Thing is though, having Camaro and Firebird, Buicks and Caddies for upmarket? Seems like one of each pair should go. GM has had so many redundant and overlapping divisions for a long time. Aren't Buick buyers and Olds buyers the same folks? Not a real competitive use of resources when you look at the overall product line. A smaller number of better vehicles ....

Agreed. I have thought that for a long time, too.

On the other hand, I don't know the business that well. I guess I could be persuaded that there was a time when brand loyalty was a powerful enough driver no pun intended for repeat customers that it made sense to maintain the separate models. It seems to me that while of course there would be efficiencies to be realized in merging cars that differed only in nameplate and a few other pieces of trim, it also seems to me that it would not have been too expensive to indulge the sort of person who would say, "Our family has always bought Pontiacs."

On the gripping hand, staying this course while making the "different" cars ever more similar probably hurt GM overall, especially with first-time buyers. I think it made them look like scammers of a sort.

TwinSwords
04-27-2009, 11:50 PM
Agreed. I have thought that for a long time, too.

On the other hand, I don't know the business that well. I guess I could be persuaded that there was a time when brand loyalty was a powerful enough driver no pun intended for repeat customers that it made sense to maintain the separate models. It seems to me that while of course there would be efficiencies to be realized in merging cars that differed only in nameplate and a few other pieces of trim, it also seems to me that it would not have been too expensive to indulge the sort of person who would say, "Our family has always bought Pontiacs."

On the gripping hand, staying this course while making the "different" cars ever more similar probably hurt GM overall, especially with first-time buyers. I think it made them look like scammers of a sort.

Why does it never occur to the armchair critics that there are efficiencies to using almost all the same parts, body, and design for two completely different, and profitable, products lines, like how Ford for many years sold millions of Cougars and millions of Thuderbirds? Each line was massively profitable, and the cars were almost identical. From a manufacturing standpoint, there are enormous synergies and efficiencies that result from their similar design.

I suppose Taco Bell could be called inefficient because they combine beef, cheese, and corn shells in so many different configurations: tacos, tostadas, enchiritos. Wouldn't they be more "efficient" if they only sold tacos and dropped those other redundant products?

Not if millions of people are buying those other products.

bjkeefe
04-27-2009, 11:55 PM
If you have me in mind when you say "armchair critics," I thought I made it quite clear that I could see a case for making similar cars and selling them under different names, that it wouldn't be expensive to do so, and that it might well have been profitable. If you didn't pick that up when reading my comment, perhaps this restatement will help.

That said, there are also good reasons why "armchair critics" might think it was a bad idea for GM to go that route so extensively. It is also the case that said armchair critics are consumers, and as such, are offering legitimate expressions of their own tastes.

Why does it never occur to the armchair critics that there are efficiencies to using almost all the same parts, body, and design for two completely different, and profitable, products lines, like how Ford for many years sold millions of Cougars and millions of Thuderbirds? Each line was massively profitable, and the cars were almost identical. From a manufacturing standpoint, there are enormous synergies and efficiencies that result from their similar design.

I suppose Taco Bell could be called inefficient because they combine beef, cheese, and corn shells in so many different configurations: tacos, tostadas, enchiritos. Wouldn't they be more "efficient" if they only sold tacos and dropped those other redundant products?

Not if millions of people are buying those other products.

TwinSwords
04-27-2009, 11:58 PM
If you have me in mind when you say "armchair critics,"
No, I didn't. You "made it quite clear that [you saw the] case for making similar cars and selling them under different names, that it wouldn't be expensive to do so, and that it might well have been profitable," which is why I directed the question at you. I wanted to reinforce your point and highlight the stupidity of one of the most common arguments used by people totaly ignorant of the auto industry, manufacturing more generally, and business.


That said, there are also good reasons why "armchair critics" might think it was a bad idea for GM to go that route so extensively. It is also the case that said armchair critics are consumers, and as such, are offering legitimate expressions of their own tastes.
Well, sure. Critics "might," and do, think all sorts of things, many of them erroneously, and indeed: consumers have their own tastes. Millions upon millions of them have a taste for American cars, which is why Ford, GM, and Chrysler have been enormously profitable corporations for decades.

bjkeefe
04-28-2009, 12:12 AM
No, I didn't. You "made it quite clear that [you saw the] case for making similar cars and selling them under different names, that it wouldn't be expensive to do so, and that it might well have been profitable," which is why I directed the question at you. I wanted to reinforce your point and highlight the stupidity of one of the most common arguments used by people totaly ignorant of the auto industry, manufacturing more generally, and business.

Okay. Sorry for misunderstanding/being oversensitive.

Well, sure. Critics "might," and do, think all sorts of things, many of them erroneously, and indeed: consumers have their own tastes. Millions upon millions of them have a taste for American cars, which is why Ford, GM, and Chrysler have been enormously profitable corporations for decades.

Yup. It's a pity that the companies became so calcified, that their management seemed to become so clueless in so many ways, and that they have so far not been able to adjust to new realities and new consumer preferences.

TwinSwords
04-28-2009, 12:19 AM
Yup. It's a pity that the companies became so calcified, that their management seemed to become so clueless in so many ways, and that they have so far not been able to adjust to new realities and new consumer preferences.

It's a shame the economy collapsed.

bjkeefe
04-28-2009, 12:26 AM
It's a shame the economy collapsed.

That, too, but I think the Big 3 have been in trouble and headed for some sort of painful end for years now. Maybe they could have righted themselves, and the recent general economic problems were just a blow they couldn't take while trying to get there, but I have not seen much evidence to support such a charitable hypothesis. It is my considered sense that the management decisions have for decades resulted in an ever-increasing view among new buyers that it's better to look at German, Japanese, and lately Korean car companies' offerings first.

Some of this may be an image problem that once it was bad enough was progressively harder to overcome, and certainly some consumer attitudes were not based on anything substantive, but I can think of a long list of reasons that I think are well-informed why I, personally, wrote them off. And I say this as someone whose first two cars were a Plymouth Duster and a Chevrolet Monte Carlo and who likes to Buy American as a general rule.

rfrobison
04-28-2009, 10:56 AM
My dad worked for Pontiac for 30-plus years. He died a few years back. All I can say is I'm glad he didn't live to see the demise of what was once a strong, sporty brand.

cragger
04-28-2009, 06:14 PM
I'll be happy to take the criticism from Twin since I seem to have poked a raw nerve here. Some association with the industry?

While what were once the Big Three did make a lot of money for quite a while, they have been in decline pretty much since serious foreign competition arrived. Detroit has been losing market share for a long time, especially to Japanese companies that have been much more focused and have produced a smaller number of models of more efficient, higher quality cars. Detroit's problem is that people are not buying their products. They have also deliberately put themselves into a position in which they are dependant on big trucks and SUV's without popular efficient models and the ability to switch over to them quickly despite the obvious and long term trend in fuel prices.

Every auto company has to deal with the sales downturn due to the economy, its Detroit that seems to be in such bad shape that they can't cope, despite undoubtedly having faced similar downturns in past recessions since lots of folks can simply put off buying new cars for a while when times are tough. Seems to me more like bad management than "somebody else's fault".

Anyhow feel free to swing away.

PS. Taco Bell sucks - crappy greasy food. As always, YMMV.

uncle ebeneezer
04-29-2009, 05:54 PM
...likes to Buy American as a general rule.

You're not fooling anybody, America-hater ;-)

popcorn_karate
04-29-2009, 06:44 PM
I bought my first Honda for 600 dollars. I put on 140,000 miles including crossing the rockies 4 times and did nothing but replace a couple CV joints, the starter, and changed the oil a few times.

sorry, but no american car can compete with that kind of value.

there, now the thread has a villain.

TwinSwords
04-30-2009, 01:58 AM
April 30, 2009
Economic Decline in Quarter Exceeds Forecast
By LOUIS UCHITELLE

The American economy is contracting at its steepest pace in 50 years, the government reported Wednesday, but an unanticipated rise in consumer spending since January suggested to many economists that the worst of the recession might have passed.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/04/29/business/0430-biz-webECON.gif

The last six months were brutal. Output fell at a 6.1 percent annual rate in the January-through-March quarter after falling at a rate of 6.3 percent in last year’s fourth quarter, according to the Commerce Department. If that pace were to continue, nearly $1 trillion would be wiped out this year from the nation’s economic output of $14.2 trillion last year.

Not since 1958, in the wake of a brief but severe collapse in home construction, has the national economy lost so much ground in just six months. But as tax breaks and government stimulus spending kick in, the decline in the gross domestic product could be cut in half by summer.

“The situation is not nearly as dark as the first-quarter number suggests,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, echoing the opinion of many forecasters, who see the contraction continuing, but at a slower rate until growth returns late this year or in early 2010.

Stock prices rose, partly in response to this prospect. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 168.78 points, or 2.11 percent, closing at 8,185.73.

The looming question remains the severity of job losses. More than five million jobs have disappeared since the recession began in December 2007. As their wages disappear, households spend less, and business, in response, reduces the output of goods and services, cutting more jobs in the process.

That dog-chasing-its-tail cycle was evident in the latest G.D.P. report, except for consumer spending, which rose at its best pace since the recession began. A sharp drop in fuel prices, economists said, helped to free up money for other spending.

“The biggest wild card going forward is whether that spending can hold up,” said Brian A. Bethune, an economist at IHS Global Insight.

The Federal Reserve’s policy makers, echoing the incipient optimism, said in a statement issued Wednesday, at the end of a two-day meeting, that the outlook had “improved modestly” and that the Fed would continue to pump tens of billions of dollars into the economy to keep credit flowing. To encourage this borrowing, and spending, interest rates controlled by the Fed would remain near zero, the policy makers said.

In a rare public forecast, Paul A. Volcker, a former Fed chairman and now an economic adviser to President Obama, added his voice to the optimism, although cautiously. “I’m not here to tell you the economy is going to recover very strongly in the short run,” Mr. Volcker said in an interview recorded for a weekend show on Bloomberg Television. But he said the improvement was sufficient to avoid a second government stimulus on top of the $787 billion in spending and tax breaks enacted in February.

An obstacle to easier credit, however, might come from the Treasury Department, which said in a report issued Wednesday that it would step up the issuing of 30-year bonds. The funding is needed to help finance the hundreds of billions of dollars that the government is spending on bank bailouts and stimulus. But the quickening pace could force Treasury to raise long-term interest rates to attract enough buyers for the bonds — an action that in turn could impede lending.

A special advisory committee to the Treasury warned in a report that the government’s huge and rapidly escalating need to borrow money would weigh heavily on the financial markets and that investors would demand higher interest rates in exchange for buying up the avalanche of new bonds.

Until now, that has not been a problem, the report said. Investors have snapped up Treasury bonds as a haven for their money in a troubled world economy, and China invested the proceeds of a huge trade surplus in United States government securities.

“Treasuries will probably not receive the same favorable demand treatment from either source over the coming quarters,” the advisory committee’s report said.

Consumer spending stood out as the only significant bright spot in the Commerce Department’s otherwise bleak update on the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation’s economic activity, which has now posted three straight quarters of decline. Consumer spending turned up in the first quarter, rising at a 2.2 percent annual rate, for the first time since last summer.

Most of the spending was on autos, kitchen appliances, computers and other durable goods. But retailers allowed shoppers to draw down inventories, without reordering to fill their shelves. Indeed, imports, a source of much of the nation’s consumption, fell sharply, along with exports. And so did business investment.

Adding to the damage, government spending at the state and local level either declined or fell sharply. That presumably will reverse in the current quarter, as the $787 billion stimulus package kicks in this spring. Indeed, many economists are counting on the federal spending and on various small windfalls for consumers to ease the recession in the months ahead.

The Social Security Administration, for example, is sending $250 checks in early May to each of the millions of older people getting benefits. And thousands of employers, responding to new federal rules, are cutting the amounts withheld from their employees’ weekly and monthly pay checks — in the process fattening take-home pay.

“These fiscal policy measures will play a key role,” said Robert J. Barbera, chief economist at ITG Investment Technology Group, “in gradually lifting economic growth.”

Jack Healy contributed reporting.