Since Buick, Pontiac and GMC dealers are in the process of consolidating their showrooms, many were likely hoping for a halo product that could draw customers into the showroom. Hey, wouldn't a version of the upcoming Chevy Camaro badged as a Pontiac Trans Am revival do the trick? Maybe, but at the NADA conference this week, GM told these dealers that a Pontiac Trans Am is not going to happen. Blame the new, more stringent federal fuel economy regulations for killing off this cool idea. In fact, the new regs also mean that the automaker will be scaling back on transforming Pontiac into a rear-wheel-drive performance division. Though GM assured dealers that Pontiac will remain a car-only brand, the assurance that a debacle like the Aztec won't happen a second time is little comfort to those who were hoping Pontiac would once again be the brand that builds excitement. And who says performance has to be totally sacrificed for fuel economy? New powertrains are being developed that make the most of the internal combustion engine's efficiency, and a twin-turbo, direct-inject four-cylinder can make gobs of power while being much more efficient than an equally powerful V6 or even V8.

GM did inform Buick, Pontiac and GMC dealers that they would be getting 12 new or special-edition vehicles over the next 20 months. A special-edition GMC Sierra pickup called Pro Grade was mentioned, for instance. Still, the quashing of any hope for a new Trans Am means that the number of vehicles slated to share the Camaro's rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform in the U.S. is dwindling. Only the Pontiac G8 and G8 ST car-based truck are confirmed, with Zeta-based rear-wheel-drive sedans for Buick and Chevy still up in the air. This means that without the ability to spread out costs across a number of new vehicles, the price of producing these vehicles will likely be high and passed on to the performance-minded consumer.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd, Photo: Winding Road]