Friday, December 18, 2009

Auto Graveyard

It started in 2001:

Plymouth 1928-2001

Then almost unbelievable:

Oldsmobile 1897-2004

Who would have thought:

Saturn 1990-2009

and Pontiac 1926-2010

and now SAAB 1949-2010

Who's next? The bet is on Ford's medium line Mercury, but Ford keeps denying it.

GM hung on too long to its vaunted and once enormously successful strategy of a car for every pocket. You started with a Chevrolet and then moved up to Pontiac when you got to mid management. A bit older and needing more room for the family, Olds was your choice. Finally you reached the success of a Buick, or better yet hit the jackpot and got to a Cadillac.

But as car lines blurred with the advent of compacts and intermediates in the 60's the middle marques got squeezed. There was little to distinguish between them and the duplication in staff, advertising and engineering became costly.

So GM is down to Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac for cars, GMC trucks and Opel/Vauxhall in Europe.

Sad to see so many great names go, but as we have seen with the end of Plymouth and Oldsmobile, we hardly miss them. That seemed to be the problem.

At least Buick survives. Dunbar would not want to be an orphan.

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