As part of its bankruptcy reorganization, General Motors will cut in half the number of brands it operates in North America. While it is selling off Hummer and Saab, it will close Pontiac and, it turns out, the Saturn division, as well, now that Roger Penske’s plan to buy the division has collapsed.
Prior to going into Chapter 11 court protection, GM held a bit more than 20% of the American auto market – and it actual nipped 21%, despite a sharp sales decline, in September. The automaker acknowledges it will lose some share, but is hoping to retain about 18%, even after abandoning the four brands. Not likely, suggests a new study by Experian Automotive, which indicates the struggling domestic maker will lose many current Saturn and Pontiac customers whom it had hoped to shift to other GM brands.
Between them, Saturn and Pontiac collectively accounted for about one in seven cars, trucks and crossovers sold by General Motors in the U.S., according to Experian data, the former brand making up 5% of the GM total, the latter 9%. Pontiac alone was nearly as large, even after years of decline, as Mercedes-Benz, Mazda or Subaru. Saturn was bigger than Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Land Rover.