Thursday, May 19, 2005


GM To Shift Brand Strategy

GM needed a superhero, and they got one - Captain Obvious, AKA Mark LaNeve:

Only two of General Motors Corp.'s eight brands -- Chevrolet and Cadillac -- will remain full-line marques while the others will offer more limited product lines under a new strategy aimed at building sales, cutting costs and bolstering brand identity.

The move marks a shift away from GM's long-held philosophy that nearly every brand should offer a full array of cars, trucks and minivans, said Mark LaNeve, GM North America vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing.

The automaker's goal is to clearly differentiate each of its brands and phase out cars and trucks that don't fit in with a brand or are too similar to other vehicles in GM's lineup.

"People say we have too many brands," LaNeve said in a recent interview. "We have too many brands if we try to do the same things with all the brands."

Now, it'd be easy to ridicule this as being something that GM should have thought about doing long ago, but the bottom line is that this is exactly the right move if GM is to avoid killing off another brand.

Now what will be interesting is to see how long this takes for this new thinking to make a difference. There's already some work in the pipeline that'll be representative of the old way of thinking - the new Pontiac Torrent (a Theta-platform rebadge of the Equinox) and the Saturn Sky (Kappa-platform restyled Solstice) will probably still hit the dealers. But at least there's still hope that the "Lambda" crossover SUV platform circle-jerk will get reigned-in, and talk of killing off one of the minivan brands is good news indeed (as is the rumor that the Buick Ranier is dead for the next model cycle).

There's still the nagging question of "what took so long?", but the most important thing is that GM finally made a logical and painful decision; one that might, just might have some real effect in the upcoming years. I bet they're going to get an earful from some dealers, though.

UPDATE: A poster on refered to this as "drop[ping] a common sense bomb". I like that.

Considering how long the Cavalier survived before being replaces, how long the current Tahoe/Suburban and truck siblings have been on the market, and countless other examples (like the previous gen Malibu) It will probably take 10 years to phase out all the models that need to die.

But it don't really matter. I bought exactly one GM vehicle. And I'm not buying another. Ever.
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