Jerry Flint did an analysis between the Scion xB and the Pontiac Aztek. His comparison of two "butt-ugly" cars wraps up with a bit about exclusive dealerships. Most people know the stories of the xB and the Aztek. The Aztek was created for the "youth" market; GM even hired a bunch of young extras to cheer on stage at its debut. The Aztek failed to capture the youth market, it was over-priced, clad in excessive plastic, and just plain ugly. The Aztek and the Element went down similar paths, but at least the Element survived. The xB however started off with Toyota's new youth oriented Scion brand. While initially dismissed, the brand has succeeded for the most part, with the xB. The xB has managed to attract younger buyers. The average buyer's age of an xB has stayed in the mid-30s, while the Element buyers run in the low to mid-40s. The Aztek is an example of poor product planning and marketing.
Mr. Flint does go on to say, that combining Pontiac, Buick, and GMC dealerships is a horrible idea. Mr. Flint believes that it is exclusive dealerships that are successful. It would be wise, however, to separate GM?s problems from the dealership debate. A large number of GM dealerships are already combined one way or another. In fact, the previous example of the successful Scion brand is illustrative of how a combined dealership could work. Scion dealerships are attached to Toyota dealerships. The Scion section is set up to have a completely different look and feel. Perhaps that is what it takes. Mr. Flint does have a solid point with combining the product lines, however. Eliminating the duplication and strengthening the identities of each brand is a solid way to maintain brand identity in a combined dealership.