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Pontiac-Looking for a Niche to Fill

It seems GM has decided to keep Pontiac and make it a “Niche” brand with a “very narrowed focus” according to Mark LaNeve. The problem is that nobody seems to know which niche. IA word of advice. f you look too hard for niches to fill you end up with the Aztec!  Now Mr. Laneve’s statement comes within weeks of the introduction of Pontiacs version of the Chevy Aveo, the G3, and the announcement of the killing of the G8 Sport Truck. They will soon be moving the Torrent from a Pontiac to the new GMC Terrain as well. I’m curious what the niche will actually be. So far it looks as if it’ll be a division full of rental cars. I had an interesting experience recently working a tradeshow booth featuring the new G8 sedan. There seemed to be two universal statements from every passer-by. The first statement was,”wow, that’s a Pontiac?” Promptly followed by, ”Oh, it’s rear wheel drive”

GM could learn a thing from the new Cadillac CTS (and Audi and Subaru for that matter). Americans love all-wheel drive! I believe what has helped dim the suv flame as much as fuel prices, are the number of all-wheel drive cars available. Until recently, if you needed four wheel drive capability you bought a Subaru or an SUV. With the increasing number of cars offering all-wheel drive versions, many folks who would have purchased suv’s have many other options. My wife and I had a Cadillac Catera until recently. Great car when it was dry but useless after the first flurry each winter. She loved the car and would have bought a new CTS but at the time the CTS was only offered in rear drive configuration. So, like many others, we ended up with an SUV we absolutely didn’t need but bought for the four wheel drive. Our next car? The new CTS-4.

Maybe, the niche Pontiac is searching for is right under their nose. And ass. Imagine an entire GM division of all-wheel drive performance sedans and sports cars. GM could set Pontiac apart from its competitors and its other divisions all at once with products people all across the U.S. have proven to want. A good all-wheel drive division with high quality, good performance, and great value? Now that’s a niche!

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