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.