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GM survival plan kills Pontiac

The car was sent to death row yesterday as General Motors put the sword to the whole Pontiac brand in its efforts to survive the global economic crisis.

Pontiac will be dead by the end of 2010 as GM focusses its revised viability program on four key brands in the USA - Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.

There is no clear picture yet of how the G8 decision will affect Holden's factory at Elizabeth in South Australia, although its output had already been slashed in reaction to falling local sales of the Commodore and in anticipation of the Pontiac decision.

"We will work with Pontiac to manage the phase-out of the G8 through to the end of next year. The announcement has only just occurred so we don’t know what their expectations might be, as the car is currently selling really well," GM Holden spokesman, Scott Whiffin, said this morning.

"Notwithstanding the fact that this has only just been announced, we don’t envisage there will be any job losses at Elizabeth as a result of this decision."

The bad news on the G8 was balanced by no news of any potential sale of GM Holden.

General Motors has talked recently about selling its Opel and Vauxhall divisions in Europe and Britain - in addition to Saab and Hummer - but there was no mention of GM Holden when GM president Fritz Henderson worked through the latest viability plan in Detroit last night.

The end of the G8 means GM Holden will shift its focus very quickly to the export potential of its new small car, the Cruze, which goes into production alongside the Commodore next year.

The business plan for the car was originally only based on Australian sales but the car - and particularly the hatchback model - will now be pushed as a potential winner for GM outposts in other countries around Asia and also South Africa.

It could also join the Commodore in the Middle East, where a version of the VE is sold with Chevrolet badges.

Paul Gover is a former CarsGuide contributor. During decades of experience as a motoring journalist, he has acted as chief reporter of News Corp Australia. Paul is an all-round automotive...
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