Discussions about the role of product in GM's recovery plan have been about as rare as Corvette sightings on Michigan's wintery streets, and so Rick Wagoner has decided to share his five big "bets" related to the stuff that GM, you know, actually sells.
First, the company's new full-size trucks and SUVs must sell. Given the fact that the pickup truck market has been going strong in the US for decades, and that GM has been producing some extremely competitive product, half of this equation should be no problem. The SUV side of things, however, would appear not to be as sure of a bet, simply due to market conditions. I'm still not looking at $2.05 gas as being "cheap."
Second, Saturn will perform well with its growing line-up. Great, but does GM really need yet another brand wedged in between Chevy and Cadillac? The brand's upcoming product looks terrific, but this almost feels like Oldsmobile's venture into Euro-type product just before the plug was pulled. It's a bit difficult to see how this fits with Pontiac's role in the organization.
Third, GM will see big growth in the crossover market. For its sake, I hope that happens, but it?s going to take something a lot cooler than just a squashed minivan or a tall wagon to make an impact in that market, particularly with the strength and breadth of the competition.
Fourth, GM will fix, rather than drop, its ?damaged brands?, as Bob Lutz called Buick and Pontiac earlier this year. This will be done by - wait for it - bringing in products like the Torrent (a rebadged Equinox) and a version of the Lambda crossover for Buick (which means that just about every GM division might end up getting a version of this platform). Where?s a RWD Pontiac Bonneville, or the Buick Velite convertible?
Finally, Wagoner says that GM must kick the habit of incentives. The Red Tag event should probably be considered Strike One in this attempt; we?ll see how things go in the first half of ?06.