GM’s Renaissance: Pontiac Should and Will Die

Given its poor health, GM should sit back and think about the crucial role, or lack thereof, that Pontiac plays in its business model. The brand in the past few decades has been, for the most part, nothing more than a rebadged Chevy. In its current lineup, the only model that isn’t a rebadge of a Chevy model is the blistering G8, hot-looking Solstice and Pontiac Vibe.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with rebadges, especially when they are distinct; it’s just that the Pontiac rebadges look blatantly identical to their Chevy cousins with the only difference often being a nose job. And then there is the brand’s performance issue…

Pontiacs are intended to provide a level of excitement (or muscle) not present in Chevys. And the verdict — failure! Most current Pontiacs feel and drive just like their Chevy counterparts. So not only do most Pontiacs look very similar to other GM models, they also drive the same as these GM models. Pontiac offers nothing in both departments.

And now GM wants to make the brand a niche brand. So my question is: with what? I am guessing that by niche, GM is talking about the market for affordable cars with muscle. The only problem is that the SS versions of all Chevy models satisfy this market pretty well.

For example, what performance credentials will differentiate a Chevy Impala SS from a Pontiac G8? What about the Chevy Camero from a new Pontiac Trans-am? Nothing! By turning Pontiac into a niche brand, GM has learned nothing from its past mistakes. A niche Pontiac will simply result in blatant, but less drastic, rebadges of high-end Chevys.

6 thoughts on “GM’s Renaissance: Pontiac Should and Will Die”

  1. To the Anonymous that posted on February 28, 2009 11:47 AM,

    What I meant was the difference between a “new” Impala and a G8. There is a good chance that a new Impala will share the same platform as the G8.

  2. To the Anonymous that posted on February 28, 2009 1:59 AM,

    I agree that Pontiac has a lot of potential, but only if GM changes its business practice with the brand. In that sense, I agree with what Peter M. Delorenzo had to say.

    With the recent move by GM to put its performance-division on hold, Pontiac as a niche brands seems more viable. The new “high-performance” laden Pontiac will have less (or none whatsoever) overlap with other high-end mainstream GM products, since these high-end trims will no longer be produced.

  3. The main difference between Impala SS and G8 is HUGE. FWD W-body Impala vs RWD Zeta chassis G8. G8’s handling has been reviewed multiple times as being as good as a 5 series BMW for $20K less. Impala SS has been reviewed as being a head scratching creation. “Why do we need 300 HP from the front wheels.”

    Pontiac’s niche vehicles will be G8 and Solstice, both legitimate RWD sports cars. Two good products are better than five FWD travesties.

  4. Kwame,

    Have you read Peter M. Delorenzo's current(Feb 25th, 2009) article/rant("Reports of Pontiac’s death have been greatly exaggerated." at
    All of what he says I can agree with. I most likely would never buy a Chevy anything. Esp. if Pontiac has something better to offer.
    I greatly do not like blatant rebadges, of which Pontiac has had its share of Chevy clones. Any brand should have its own design language/philosophy/architecture like Cadillac, Holden do which translates into part of a brands identity. Rebadges happen as a means to cut corners. Cutting corners like this are completely unnecessary, thus rebadges are unnecessary.
    Pontiac is worth saving. IMO, Pontiac should be part of the "Core" brands w/Chevrolet/GMC/Buick & Cadillac!! Pontiac still has much potential. It'd be criminal not to tap into it.

  5. You have a point. But what differentiates Pontiac’s cars from those of Chevy aside from the looks? Would you say they are more exciting than Chevys?

  6. When you listed the non rebadges, you listed a most of Pontiacs lineup, only really leaving the Torrent and G5 as the rebadges. To that end, the vibe has done well, and the others are appealing, meaning that those couple cars are probably worth keeping around.


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