When ants need to cross some dangerous span in order to get to the thing they want, certain ants in the colony will sacrifice themselves to build a bridge that other ants can cross. That's how you get the honey. In GM's case, the honey is a $12 billion government lifeline. The dangerous span is, well, extinction. And the sacrificial ants in this case could be Pontiac, Saturn, and Saab.
Before the government would start writing checks (to the automakers, at least), Congress told GM (and Ford and Chrysler) to come back with a plan that gave some indication of long-term viability and a return to financial health. Supposedly, as part of such a plan, GM has looked at "shedding" the three brands in question, which would eliminate the massive costs associated with production, marketing and sales. But that would happen after massive payouts, some serious upheaval and tens of thousands of job losses. It would leave GM with Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac... which, since it's in ruthless survival mode, makes us wonder what kind of crush GM has on GMC. GM will release a 10-to-12 page plan to the public making its case and Congress has scheduled a hearing on the matter for December 5th.
In the article, the word "shedding" is used to describe what GM would do with Saturn, Pontiac, and Saab. But we don't know where and how they would shed them. Saturn is a misfit child (not really Saturn's fault), Pontiac is unsure of itself (except when it comes to the G8 triplets and the Solstice), and Saab sold about 33,000 cars in America last year and 125,000 around the world. With the state of lending and credit markets, it would probably be easier to buy a pterodactyl than get a loan to buy one of GM's brands. HUMMER's already been on the block so long it's about to get arrested for loitering. So is "shedding" a euphemism for "bye-bye..."? We'll know soon enough. Thanks to all who tipped in.