Classic brand axed by end of 2010 as GM restructures to save money
27 April 2009

GM will kill off the evocative Pontiac brand as it bids to cut costs.

As part of a measure of cost savings announced in a new viability plan today, GM confirmed it will phase the Pontiac brand out by the end of 2010, while also deciding the futures of Hummer, Saab and Saturn by the end of 2009. It has pledged to focus on Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.

GM must convince the US government of the business sense of its viability plan if it is to continue receiving cash bailouts, rather than be put into bankruptcy protection.

Read Steve cropley's blog on the death of Pontiac

Pontiac has produced cars since 1926, and they have been sold in the US, Canada and Mexico.

The name derives from Chief Pontiac, an American Indian chief who led an unsuccessful uprising against the French shortly after the French and Indian War.

As a result an American Indian Headdress was used as as a logo until 1956. It was then changed to an American Indian arrowhead, which is now known as the dart.

Pontiacs were also easily identifiable for their 'silver streaks' of stainless steel that extended from the grille down the centre of the bonnet.

Its first car was the Pontiac Chief, powered by a 39bhp 3.1-litre engine.

Classic Pontiac models include the GTO, Firebird, Trans-Am, Fiero and Bonneville.

The brand is also linked to some of film and television's most famous cars. Knight Rider's KITT was a Pontiac Trans-Am, while the Firebird Trans-Am starred in Smokey and the Bandit.

The Fiero is also a cult favourite, having spawned numerous replicas and influenced modern supercar styling.

In recent years Pontiac has introduced cars including the Holden Commodore-based G8, which replaced the GTO, Bonneville and Grand Prix models and is sold in the UK as the VXR8.

Other proposed cost-savings include cutting the number of models GM sells from 48 in 2008 to 34 by 2010, cutting the number of dealers from 6246 in 2008 to 3605 by the end of 2010 and cutting the number of assembly, powertrain and stamping plants in the US from 47 in 2008 to 34 by the end of 2010, and 31 by 2012.

An unspecified number of jobs will also be cut, while savings agreed with the UAW workers' union will cut labour costs from $7.6 billion (£5.2 billion) to $5 billion (£3.4 billion) in 2010.

As a result, GM says its market share will fall to 18.4-18.9 per cent from 2010. It says it will have to sell 10 million vehicles a year to break even - a figure that it says will be achievable when the economic climate picks up. It sold 8.35 million vehicles last year.

GM has also launched a bond exchange offer for approximately $27 billion (£18.4 billion) of unsecured public debt.

It also pledged to invest $5.3-6.7 billion (£3.6-4.6 billion) in future product development each year until 2014, and pledged that the Chevrolet Volt would be ready to start production at the end of 2010.

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