Easy… Here goes:
Reintroduce the brand as a 100% lifestyle brand. Sales volume shouldn’t be the focus. If GM wants sales volume, they need to whip Chevrolet or Buick/Cadillac. Pontiac needs to mean something (which is something I’m fairly certain GM’s tepid and flawed marketing could never pull off), and build a base of loyal buyers. Think: Mini or Subaru.
Reintroduce the brand through the Buick/GMC sales channel in select markets. Most likely big cities. Places where the dealers are willing to invest in the brand, and just enough dealers so the brand builds allure.
ENTRY 1 (codename: Tempest) – Import the Buick Astra GS from China.
- Turn up the boost a bit.
- Spend a little money on lightly updated styling for this market.
- Create appealing option groups.
This car is here for one reason: entry in to the Pontiac brand. It needs to be something sporty and attractive (not half-hearted) that’ll attract people who might’ve bought a Focus ST or Civic Si. Could it be structured to compete with stuff like the Focus RS, Civic Type-R and Golf R? Sure… IF, and that’s a big if, the sales could justify the investment. Which brings me to the whole method behind the car. GM sorely lacks a hot compact. However, there is NO reason to invest in such a product in the current sales environment (2/3rds of the market is crossovers). This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to plug that hole in GM’s line-up. Labor costs aren’t a concern. Volume isn’t a concern (think: Envision. U.S. sales would be icing on the cake, like that model). Investment isn’t huge. It gets young folks in a Pontiac showroom. And it isn’t something that can be bought at Buick or Chevrolet.
ENTRY 2: (codename GTO) Developed on either Alpha II or VSS-R and produced at Lansing Grand River.
- Large capacity coupe or, more likely, sedan.
- Multiple specialized trims with 4 or 8-cylinder (and maybe 6-cylinder power) – all existing GM engines.
- No stripper or fleet models (If you want a stripper car, go to Chevrolet)
- The most traditional offering.
This appeals to the purists (of which I am one). The Charger and Challenger are already the only large, volume market RWD products on the market and, soon enough, they’ll be some of the last large cars left on the volume market. The idea here is to compete in that realm. Traditionalists. But, at the same time, the entry wouldn’t compete with Chevrolet, as the Camaro is obviously growing in to more of a sports car to pick up lost front-mid engine Corvette sales (in the future). Nor would it compete with Cadillac, as the upcoming CT4 and CT5 won’t have the same content/size ratios. If Buick were to ever re-introduce RWD, they could go with a larger footprint (think: Omega). If played correctly, this component set could even be used for a crossover-like wagon (or traditional wagon, which, while cool, would likely never happen). This entry could be produced at LGR, since slow Camaro and ATS sales mean there’s probably plenty of room to fill capacity.
ENTRY 3 (codename: Fiero or Solstice) Developed on future Corvette underpinnings, assembled in Bowling Green
- Brand halo
- Low volume
- Technology showcase
This could go one of two ways. 1) De-content (in a good way) – make it a pure driver’s car) the rumored Cadillac and Corvette Zora mid-engine supercar, make it affordable and top out with V6 power (Think: Ford GT – more about track performance and engineering than pure muscle). 2) IF the Corvette goes mid-engine only, and the front-mid platform is retired after C7, pick up where that car left off. Y-Body HAS to be printing money at this point, so investment should be pretty low. As for the mid-engine program, more volume means more cash.
ENTRY 4 (codename: Piranha) Developed on D2XX. Assembly: ??
- Small, sporty crossover that needs to really hit the mark to establish the brand
- A second entry point for the brand
- Roughly the size of the Cadillac XT4
- Built around driving and utility more than anything else
This is where the money is in today’s market and, as a result, this is where the bulk of development money should be spent. The formula is easy. The entry would probably be about the size of the Envision, so they might compete a bit (although, ideally, the character of the two offerings would be very different) But, since Envision is imported in small volume anyway, it shouldn’t matter too much.
ENTRY 5 (codename: REV) Developed on Chi and assembled at Spring Hill
- Mainstream crossover in size
- Roughly the size of the XT5
- Same formula as Piranha
Once again, easy money. XT5-size is a bit smaller than Acadia, so the Pontiac/Buick/GMC channel would have the following crossover structure 1) Encore 2) Envision/Piranha 3) Terrain 4) REV 5) Acadia 6) Enclave.
Next up: Hummer.