Will Consumers Miss the Old GM? Not Likely

Pontiac There’s been a lot of talk about “good GM” and “bad GM” and what the closure of Pontiac and sale of Saturn, Saab and Hummer will mean to the new company. We thought we’d recap the impact GM’s restructuring will have on car shoppers.

General Motors remains the largest producer and seller of cars and trucks in the United States, already selling 777,785 vehicles this year, through May.

Nearly one of every five cars purchased in the U.S. comes from GM through the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Saab, Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac brands.

Pontiac will be shut down completely by the end of 2010, with Saab, Saturn and Hummer expected to be sold off.

Those four brands combined have 18 nameplates on sale. Together, those models comprised 2.4% of the new-car market in April. That’s a drop of about 1% from the same time last year (3.6%).

Which is to say that consumers won’t exactly miss these brands, which is part of the reason why GM and President Barack Obama’s auto task force decided to cut them.

In their wake, GM could pick up market share with Chevrolet, which had a 14% share in April -- up from 12.5% last year.

Chevy was the second best-selling brand in April, just behind Ford and just ahead of Toyota. Buick, GMC and Cadillac saw market share hold steady.

Consumers are also buying more Hondas, Hyundais, Kias, Volkswagens and BMWs as a percentage of the market.

According to The Economist, U.S. capacity to build cars still exceeds demand by around 7 million vehicles. So if you’re worried that prices will increase after a GM downsizing, that fear is unfounded.

The bottom line is, consumers will have fewer individual models to chose from in the short term, though you should still be able to find the car you want at the price you’re looking for.

If you had your heart set on a Saturn Aura or a Pontiac G8, they are still on sale with full warranties that are backed by the government, and they will be serviced at other GM dealers.

Looking at these numbers, it seems the Old GM will likely fade away like Oldsmobiles of the past. What’s still unknown is whether the New GM will pick up the lost market share.

Market share of endangered car brands (April 2009)

  • Pontiac = 1.3%
  • Saturn = 0.9%
  • Hummer = 0.1%
  • Saab = 0.1% 

Market share of five largest brands (April 2009)

  • Ford = 14.1%
  • Chevrolet = 14% 
  • Toyota = 13.2%
  • Honda = 11.2%
  • Dodge = 5.3%

*All market share and sales numbers come from Automotive News.

Comments 

I never thought Pontiac's market share would be so low. I always thought it was one of the largest of GM's brands (but I guess it used to be?). Great analysis.

"Chevy was the second best-selling brand in April, just behind Ford and just ahead of Toyota. Buick, GMC and Cadillac saw market share hold steady."

I briefly spoke with @stradablog this morning about recent sales figures. Given the title of this article, I suspect there isn't any sugar-coating going on, but I'd truly be curious to know how your Ford-Chevy-Toyota order would play out if fleet sales were not included in the underlying figures.

It's my opinion (barring actual data) that Toyota would jump right to the top of the list if fleet sales to rental car companies, businesses, at al were not included. Yes, fleets are part of the market mix, but it is the private sales figures that reflect interest in the products.

Just curious...

Broq

so, even if toyota was at the top of the list- what does that have to do with this article?

Broq

cody

i know i'll miss the diversity of the different brand. when considering gm vehicles, i always leaned toward saturn and pontiac. i actually owned two saturn and one pontiac over the past 16 years. some people don't like to drive what everyone else is driving.

kj

Wonder if Avis or any other car rental company will miss the old GM.

Great breakdown. Very interesting.

DodgeFan

I think the endangered brands are niche brands. If the market hadn't collapsed I think the endangered brands could of been niche brands that made money. But since very few of us can buy cars it makes sense to get rid of the niche brands. Also according to reports Hummer is being sold to Chinese so its not technically going away. Saturn might be bought by Penseke so it will be interesting to see where that brand goes. SAAB has some support from Swiss Government but I think it is really a dead brand.

sheth

Brian:

Fleet sales are part of the market and GM/Ford/Chrysler serve markets that the imports don't such as police vehicles. Rental sales are really the only bad fleet sales and that's exactly where Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai send their fleet sales. You don't see many imports in institutional fleets. They are becoming more common as taxis though. Sales to the government or companies do not lower resale value because those vehicles remain in service for years.

YOING

Not much anything GM makes would be missed. Too many better options out there.

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