How many people think Buick or GMC should have gotten the axe instead of Pontiac? You can't see it, but I'm raising my hand. Autoweek reports that former Vice Chairman of GM, Bob Lutz, has indicated that things didn't have to end up the way they did.

"The Feds said, 'Yeah, how much money have you made on Pontiac in the last 10 years?' and the answer was, 'Nothing.'"

In a talk given at the Petersen Automotive Museum for the Inside the MotoMan Studio series, Lutz says "The Feds said, 'Yeah, how much money have you made on Pontiac in the last 10 years?' and the answer was, 'Nothing.' So, it goes. And when the guy who is handing you the check for $53 billion says, 'I don't want Pontiac, drop Pontiac or you don't get the money,' it doesn't take you very long to make up your mind." Lutz even added that the next-generation Pontiac G6 would have benefitted from the rear-wheel-drive platform of the Cadillac ATS. How awesome would that have been?

Watch Lutz speak below for yourself, and take note that he makes his statement about "The Feds" at around 2:14:39. It's a great watch, but if you don't have two-and-a-half hours to burn watching the full piece, Autoweek also has a solid review of the chat.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 134 Comments
      GerMer
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yeah right, mismanaged a car company and when it fails and didn't make any money, blamed it on the government, pretty smart!
        Pontiac
        • 9 Months Ago
        @GerMer

        Why do my wealthy friends tell me all the time about a $600 sensor went bad. $900 to fix a per door window problem. You rich guys never care about stuff like that but one guy if we can believe him says he lost a transmission at 100K. So what, do a large percentage of G6's tranny's fail? These comments tell the stories that the owners want told and leave out all the aforementioned other that I know happen.

        suthrn2nr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GerMer
        reminds me of their "New GM" ad when they said "There was a time when 13 brands made sense". No, there was never a time when that made sense, just look at your competitors, all succesful with just a few brands. Toyota challenged you for the #1 seller spot with just 2 (!) brands, scion hadnt even come out yet.
          Pontiac
          • 9 Months Ago
          @suthrn2nr

          Yeah but everyone knows Toyota's suck other than to make Japan's economy rich and to satisfy those that really don't enjoy cars anyway. 

      John
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bob Lutz is his own biggest fan. He is also the guy responsible for the aardvark-nosed minivans, and deciding that Saturn needed one, as well as a Lambda clone. His pet project, the Solstice was too unrefined with boneheaded features like the ridiculous soft top, and was never competitive in its segment. How about that GTO that looked like a rental car? His track record at GM is, at best, mixed. It must totally drive him nuts that his "brilliance" couldn't turn around GM, and the only thing that saved them was his hated Federal Government. I own a Pontiac and am sad to see them gone, but it was also obvious that they were in a multi-decade state of decline and were a drag on the company. Hopefully they can be revived as a niche brand with one or two offerings at some point in the future.
        wrestleprocbt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @John
        I doubt Pontiac would be revived as a niche brand with a couple models. Gov't Motors is all about mass producing with everything bland and boring. SAAB was a niche brand and their goal was to suck it dry, make it mass prduced and change it's appeal all to sell more. It wasn't made for that, it was for those who wanted something different and not the same look a like cars. Wasn't it Hitler that wanted a car for all Germans and thats where the Beetle came from? Everyone could have the same bland boring car. Seems like some similarites here starting since 2008 and the Beetle. A LOT of similarities!
          The Wasp
          • 1 Year Ago
          @wrestleprocbt
          Hold on a second -- are you recalling SAAB more fondly than the original Beetle? SAAB's niche was ugly, mostly crappy cars.
          LoneWolf
          • 1 Year Ago
          @wrestleprocbt
          @The Wasp: Yes of course. Saabs are cool, unique, pioneers of turbocharging, what candle does a badly designed Nazi car which scammed thousands of germans out of their money hold against Saab??
          John
          • 1 Year Ago
          @wrestleprocbt
          I know you are attempting to shoehorn selected facts into a predetermined argument, but you are apparently forgetting the entire decade of the 1980s, when then "Fully Independent Motors" produced such bland and identical cars across divisions that they were widely ridiculed by competitors for their sameness. Likewise, the SAAB decisions were made well before the Feds bailed them out and forced them to start to get their act together. If anything, the cars produced since 2009 are much more distinctive from each other than in the past, and in the case of the Impala, class-leading.
      Matt
      • 1 Year Ago
      Washington killed Pontiac? Didn't they play a big part in saving the company from bankruptcy? I"m pretty sure you and your executives were the one that left Pontiac AND Saturn for dead. Saturn did well up until GM stuck its hand in the cookie jar and turned their cars into re-branded Chevy's. Same thing goes for Pontiac. How doesn't this ring a bell to him?
        Trobbins88
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Matt
        Couldnt agree more. Don't understand how having 4 or 5 cars being rebadged makes any money. The G6 was a sportier version of the Malibu/Aura/Buick Something. The Montana SV6 was the same as the Venture/Outlook/Buick Something. The Solstice was the same as the Sky. The G8 was the only car that did not have an American Chevy/Buick/Saturn twin (i know it was a rebadged holden). IMO, GM should consist of: Chevy--the classic American car/truck/suv line Cadillac--luxury line Pontiac--performance division (limited production) Buick--cars for old farts Kill off GMC, and leave Hummer/Saturn for dead
          Matt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Trobbins88
          I agree with everything except for Buick and Saturn. I say end Buick (they're mostly just rebadges from Opel and elsewhere). IMO, GM should be: Chevy: Solid, reliable American made cars Cadillac: Luxury Pontiac: Performance Saturn: The laboratory of GM. The division where they can do some potential innovation. Throw some unusual stuff out to the public and see if they like it. Kinda like they did with the plastic body panels and center mounted instrument cluster back in the old days. If people like what they see from Saturn, they could implement whatever they did on the rest of their lineup. If not, no big deal. Hummer can stay six feet under though. those things were nothing more than stupid status symbols. "Look at me! I have money And i'm putting it to absolutely no good use!"
          Billy Farmer
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Trobbins88
          I would only add , keep GMC for the commercial trucks so resale on Chevy trucks would be higher. IDK maybe that is a ok or not a ok ideal lol
          Trobbins88
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Trobbins88
          Sorry, meant that Montana SV6 was the same as the Relay, not the Outlook. That was another rebadged truck.
      GoSpeedRacerGo
      • 1 Year Ago
      If Pontiac wasn't making money over its last 10 years, how can Lutz blame anyone other than GM management? Is it arrogance, delusion or both?
        Jim Pease
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GoSpeedRacerGo
        Thank you GSRG. I was thinking the same thing!
        Hazdaz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GoSpeedRacerGo
        I love Lutz as a DESIGN guy, but this shows his complete failure as a business guy. Pontiac hadn't made money in some 10 years, but they were supposed to keep them around? Yeah, I get it... I get that there are lots and lots of stories and heritage and memories tied up in the brand, but at some point, you need to cut your losses. Its not like Pontiac as on the up-swing. Buick had big sales because of China or else, I would not have been surprised if Buick would have been cut and Pontiac survived. Either way, these are the questions that should have been asked at GM back in the 80s, 90s, 00s but weren't. And Lutz was at GM for much of that time, so he really should shut his pie-hole.
      PTC DAWG
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am grew up a fan of Pontiac. I was at the dealership when they pulled my Dad's new 67 GTO around the corner for delivery....oh the memories. That said, the question by the FEDS was legit....and it wasn't the FEDS fault that the answer was what it was.
      Hazdaz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good. The tough questions needed to be asked, since clearly GM management at the time wasn't willing to ask those questions themselves. No one wanted to see a storied brand like Pontiac go away, but GM ruined that brand over decades. If the government did indeed push them, then so be it. Its made GM a considerably stronger and more focused company because of it.
      Eta Carinae
      • 1 Year Ago
      even with pontiac gone i like the way GM is right now.........upper luxury (cadillac), Middle luxury (buick), Common brand(chevy), and hullers (GMC)..........if pontiac was still around it would but heads with chevy to be the common brand.....probably even take sales away since it would have been the sportier of the two brands.......
      nocommie11
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bring back the Aztec!!! In Crystal Meth Blue of course.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wonder if they will resurrect Pontiac one day.
        The Wasp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        If the rumored Plymouth Barracuda comes back, it would be a good argument for a limited edition Firebird or T/A. I'm sure they could sell a couple thousand a year as a special order through existing Chevrolet dealerships.
      BGJ
      • 1 Year Ago
      Alpha was always meant to be a cadillac platform. It would have made zero sense financially to put a pontiac on it and GM would have continued to hemorrhage money on pontiac. Great decision to kill a pointless brand. Next up, GMC please. How many oems have 2 full size truck lines... stupid waste of engineering costs.
        Hazdaz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BGJ
        If Pontiac got the ATS platform, one of two things would have happened in the OLD-GM way of thinking. Either the ATS platform would have been half-assed and watered-down to make it cheap enough to use in a mass-market car like the G6 and the ATS itself would not have been the true 3-series competitor that it is now. OR Cadillac and Pontiac and Chevy and Buick would all have had a version of that platform and we'd be back to GM's old days of badge engineering. As it is now, Cadillac has the ATS platform, and Chevy is going to get a version of it for the Camaro, but those vehicles are (presumably) not going to share sheetmetal or interiors and probably will have almost no common parts except for maybe an engine or tranny.
        kevin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BGJ
        GMC's sell for a higher transaction price and are marketed to a different demographic than Chevys. The under laying engineering is the same on both lines of truck, the differences are cosmetic and feature content. Basically GM makes more money on GMC Trucks and it lets them fine tune features that will be on the Chevy in 5 years or so.
      Carguy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unless you are looking at it from a purely local Pontiac dealer perspective there is no reason for Pontiac to have continued. Outside of some brand awareness and some historical connection the product coming out of GM in general did not warrant multiple dealerships selling the same car. The brand itself was heavily damaged and even when it made some decent product like the Solstice (designed by Tesla chief designer) it failed to attract a young target audience. The only open question left by the Pontiac demise - would Walter White have bought a G8 if they still made them?
      jtav2002
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unfortunately save for the G8 and the Solstice which really needed a 2nd generation of refinement, they didn't have anything really worth keeping them around. Sure, many make the argument that they should get rid of GMC however there are A LOT of GMC Sierra buyers that wouldn't otherwise buy a Silverado, for whatever reason. So you'd potentially lose all those customers. Buick is a big seller in China. I would have liked to see Pontiac stick around and become more performance oriented, however looking at the overall picture at the time I think Pontiac and Saturn were the obvious choices.
        Luke
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jtav2002
        GMC makes too much money from the Sierra and should've stayed. Buick should've gotten the axe IMHO.
          The Wasp
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Luke
          @JaredN You speak as if Buick in China is the same as it is in the US. It's not. A large source of Buick's prestige in China, aside from Buick's history, is the GL8 minivan, which is often used as a pseudo-luxury shuttle of sorts. There's also the Park Avenue, which many here would say is a better Buick than what has been sold in the US in a long, long time. You're right that killing off a brand undermines its popularity. Dead brands tend not to sell many cars. A few years ago, I would say Buick in the US did not have much to offer that couldn't be covered by Chevrolet and Cadillac.
          JaredN
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Luke
          China is the largest and fastest growing car market in the world, and GM sells a ton of Buicks in China. GM never sold many (any?) Pontiacs in China. Axing Buick would have been financial malfeasance.
          Bernard
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Luke
          The only people who wanted to ax Buick are American. The Chinese have a completely different perspective. GM is international so they can't just rely on American shoppers, they need to sell to the Chinese too. This is why GM didn't follow your opinion.
          The Wasp
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Luke
          @Bernard I supported killing off Buick -- but given that it was already successful in China, there's no reason they couldn't kill it off in the US and keep it alive in China.
        Andy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jtav2002
        Seconded. Pontiac had too small a lineup and too small sales to keep alive. Unlike Buick which had international presence, Pontiac had nothing to offer internationally. Despite its great lineage, it needed to be dumped.
          BahamaTodd
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Andy
          @linuxaddict7: You mean a Daewoo and a Toyota...
          linuxaddict7
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Andy
          Nope. Pontiac decent lineup. My neighbor has cute little G3 and vibe.
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