General Motors Death Watch 167: The Not So Gr8 Pontiac G8

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by deusexaethera, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    Since the G8 is a hot topic, I figured I'd post this. I just ran across it a few minutes ago. (link)

    - - -

    By Robert Farago
    March 16, 2008 - 3,732 Views

    Media-wise, the new Pontiac G8 is a hit. Obviously. The Aussie four door conforms to the pistonhead paradigm: a powerful, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan. According to the jobbing journos flown to a first-class California hotel to test the new machine on local roads, the G8 GT isn't aesthetically offensive, goes like stink and handles well. While hooning hacks are celebrating the return of the [imported] American muscle car, they seem to have forgotten the fact that the muscle car is dead. As is Pontiac. And, by extension, GM.

    The Dodge Charger is the obvious, indeed inescapable, template for the Pontiac G8's prospects. While enthusiasts may balk at the comparison– citing important [to them] differences in power, handling, interior fitment, etc.– the G8 and the Charger live in the exact same niche. They sell at the same price, offer the same driven wheels configuration and boast the same aggressive style. Last year, the Charger sold a not-inconsiderable 119,289 units.

    The billion dollar question: can the G8 make those numbers, or better? Although the initial plan is to import limited numbers (20kish) of G8s, given the cost of production, there's only one way this car will ever make money for GM: if it sells in sufficient volumes to justify larger, and more local, production. At least that WAS the plan…

    The Pontiac G8 may find some measure of sales success simply by stealing buyers from the Charger and its other logical competitor, the Chrysler 300. But even if the G8 scams 20 percent of these two ‘merican-style machines' customers, the Pontiac can't thrive on defectors alone. To make its nut, G8 buyers have to come from… somewhere else.

    The chances that loyal/satisfied owners of transplant sedans will opt for the new Pontiac are small. While the new G8 may embody the erstwhile carmaker's old "excitement division" selling point, Pontiac destroyed that brand equity decades ago in a torrent of poorly-built, badge-engineered cars and minivans. In spite of (because?) the flame-out success of the Solstice roadster, Pontiac has no cachet upon which the G8 can draw. The company itself has moved on to a new motto: "Pontiac is car." How great is that?

    So what about SUV escapees? Perhaps the G8 will tempt mainstream truck buyers to return to the large American-style cars of their youth. For years, pundits have predicted that SUV refugees will eventually opt for comfy sedans (remember Ford's Year of the Car?). Unfortunately, lackluster large sedan sales lead us to conclude that most SUV escapees are "trading down" to slightly more fuel-efficient CUVs or "all the way" to four-cylinder sedans.

    Truth be told, the most likely customers for the new Pontiac G8 are consumers considering another GM sedan. What's the bet people looking at the Chevrolet Impala and/or Buick Lucerne/Lacrosse and/or a lower-spec Cadillac CTS will opt for a G8? In other words, once again, cannibals loom large in GM's sales schemes.

    Alternatively– and this is the best case scenario– the overall market for the G8-type of vehicle will expand. In a shrinking new car market beset by rising fuel prices, any hope that the audience for a relatively thirsty rear-wheel-drive sedan will suddenly enlarge is destined to remain unfulfilled. The fact that sales of the Dodge Charger and the fleet-bolstered Chrysler 300 are flat does not bode well for the Pontiac.

    While the G8 may get off to an auspicious start (the thrill of the new), it's highly unlikely G8 sales will have "legs." The Pontiac G8's "killer app" is American muscle. But it should be remembered that the V8 variant accounts for just 24 percent of the Charger's total sales (24,630 vs. 90,659). So, while the G8 GT offers remarkable bang-for-the-buck, the "normal" V6 version will make or, more likely, break this car.

    Yes, the G8 V6 is rear wheel-drive and significantly faster than the Charger V6. But the bread-and-butter model G8 is slower than both the V6 Accord and V6 Toyota Camry. The base Pontiac's sloth leaves the Australian-built sedan with no appreciable advantage for the average American sedan buyer.

    In fact, when it comes to evaluating the "average" G8, the average U.S. car buyer couldn't care less about horsepower, driven wheels, handling or speed. They want brand rep, reliability, comfort, a competitive sticker price and maximum fuel efficiency– and not necessarily in that order.

    Speaking to that point, The base Pontiac G8 gets 17/25mpg. The Honda Accord V6 gets 19/29; the six-pot Camry clocks-in at 19/28. And anyway, six-cylinder Accords and Camrys do NOT account for the majority of the models' sales. They are easily and completely outsold by variants with more fuel efficient four-cylinder engines; which the G8 doesn't offer.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, the Pontiac G8 is the wrong car at the wrong time for GM. Whether or not there's any profit in importing a $30k car from halfway around the world, what GM really needs to survive is a single, highly competitive four-cylinder sedan. Instead of adding the G8 to their line-up, GM should have improved what they had.
     
  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,737
    Likes Received:
    1,604
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Major flaws in his op-ed.

    He assumes the G8 is a volume car whose mission is to conquer Camrys and Chargers - it isn't. Holden can only build 30,000 - 50,000 per year. He also ignores the fact that GM's big four cylinder sedan aimed at the Japanese is the Malibu.

    This is a flagship car for Pontiac designed to generate excitement for the brand and restore it's lost glory as well as continue it's RWD performance heritage.

    People don't want to buy shitty four cylinder Pontiacs. If they put a Pontiac badge on the Malibu and stuck it in showrooms now it wouldn't sell nearly as well as it does over at Chevrolet.

    The brand stands for RWD, hot-blooded, tire-smoking performance. That's not going to be for everyone, but it's a profitable niche Chrysler has had to themselves for too long. That's what Pontiac fans want and judging by the enormous response this car is generating here and all over the web that's what everyone else wants.
     
  3. SilverTurtle

    SilverTurtle New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    Messages:
    10,488
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    ATX/hill country
    why is it that every time something good comes along, some Chicken Little runs around screaming, "the sky is falling! the sky is falling!"

    Pontiac has suffered in the doldrums of ho-hum cars with great performance for years... as TriShield said, the G8 is the flagship car for the brand... the G6 is the Camry and Accord fighter... and the author completely overlooked the fact that appearance is everything to some people, and the Camry and Accord are just plain butt ugly right now... even the mediocre looking G6 looks better than the two imports... and while they may still be selling somewhere, they're not selling well in Texas... Honda and Toyota lots in the Austin area are chocked full of Camrys and Accords, there are incentives to get them off the lot and 4cylinder models are the ones that are sitting on the lots... so the whole article, IMO, is the author's way of making his voice different from everyone else's voice so that he can say, "I was right and you were wrong," just in case he is right... and I, for one, think he's just another moron spouting off nonsensical ramblings.
     
  4. CJPA

    CJPA New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Messages:
    114,304
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    AZ, USA
    The current Camry looks like a fucking manatee.
     
  5. art_VW_shark

    art_VW_shark OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    Messages:
    156,683
    Likes Received:
    179
    Location:
    Bosstown
    reporter knows nothing
     
  6. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    It is a pretty pretentious site, but I happened across the article while looking for something else, and I've seen other TTAC articles posted here before, so I figured "why not".

    He does seem to contradict himself; on the one hand he says the V6 version will make or break sales of the G8 as a whole, and on the other hand he says the V6 version has nothing to offer buyers that the Accord or Camry don't also offer. So it seems like he's saying indirectly that the G8 is doomed to failure because the V6 is the more appealing version but nobody will want to buy it anyway.

    Well, but that's not really accurate, because the V6 version still looks better and it's still RWD, so theoretically it would appeal to people who at least want to pretend they drive a sport sedan, whereas the Accord and Camry would be for people who have given up on that fantasy. But are there enough of those people? I dunno.

    I do think he's right about the V8 moving fewer units in theory, because it does get poorer gas mileage, and there are fewer and fewer people who can afford to ignore the cost of gas, no matter how much they want a hot car. But since he's also pointed out that the V6 is crippled by having only imaginary benefits over more mainstream sedans, I think it's more likely that sales will be split 50/50 between V6's and V8's.

    The only remaining question, then, is whether enough people will want to buy the car at all for it to remain in North America for more than a year or two. And I don't know anywhere near enough about the target demographic to call that one up or down.

    - - -

    EDIT: Since he brought up the "flame-out success" of the Solstice, I have to say I don't think that's a bad direction for sports cars to go in. Just like there is no replacement for displacement, there's no escaping inertia either, and a small car has less inertia so it can be inherently more "sporty" than a big car. I mean, it's nice if you can have a big grand tourer with a backseat and a trunk and 600hp and enough grip to tear off the top layer of asphalt, but as energy gets more expensive, the only reasonable approach is to dispense with the stuff that isn't really core to the "driving experience" -- namely, the backseat and the trunk and all the other crap that modern cars come with -- so you can keep the "driving experience". Look at all the really old sports cars -- they were little one- or two-seat roadsters with optional roofs and a couple of leather straps to hold a suitcase, and they were loads of fun. It's just a matter of adjusting to a different paradigm.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2008
  7. art_VW_shark

    art_VW_shark OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    Messages:
    156,683
    Likes Received:
    179
    Location:
    Bosstown
    which is one of the stupider things on the net.
     
  8. IslanderOffRoad

    IslanderOffRoad Do you even lift kit? OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2003
    Messages:
    73,540
    Likes Received:
    234
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    I really like the G8, but come on. This is the same rhetoric that was spewed when the GTO came out... and nothing changed.
     
  9. Mjolnir

    Mjolnir WHM6D > *

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2007
    Messages:
    15,206
    Likes Received:
    0
    The GTO's failure was styling and marketing.

    Styling- people who wanted a "GTO" weren't interested in buying a re-badged Monaro. They wanted a 1967 Pontiac with some updates. Even though it's faster than a Mustang, who wanted a fast Cavalier? Would it have killed GM to put a retro fascia on it?

    Marketing- GM had a 350 (400) hp car with a good interior, good riving dynamics, and mediocre styling that would eviscerate anything else in it's class- RWD V8 coupe. What did they pitch? The new GTO. They didn't point out that you got a much nicer car than a Mustang for not much more (if any)money. They didn't point out that any other ~$30k RWD coupe was a 200-250 horsepower 6 cylinder Euro or a Chrysler with no back seat. They didn't point out that for the price of a FWD Solara you got a RWD muscle car with one of the most durable drivetrains on the planet. They fucked up, big time.

    The G8 is being pitched at a different audience and marketed differently. If GM really only needs to sell 20k to 30k a year to justify the decision, they should be okay.
     
  10. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's true, the GTO really didn't do anything to draw attention to itself. It was almost like GM was trying to release it without offending anyone.
     
  11. FiKtIOn

    FiKtIOn A bottle of Jack, a case of Pearl, and a pack of c

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2002
    Messages:
    2,800
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    Which was the GTO's ultimate downfall.

    It was really a great car with little to no advertising.

    I thought I hated the GTO until I sat in one and drove one, everyone else I know who has done that has felt the same. The GTO is really easy to hate, it's bland, quiet, understated, and basically to the popular eye it's just a goofy looking Grand-Prix.

    Most everyone I know that has driven one though, suddenly really likes the car. Whether they bought one or not is a different story, but the fact still remains that there was nowhere near enough advertising for the GTO to ever have a chance.
     
  12. Mjolnir

    Mjolnir WHM6D > *

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2007
    Messages:
    15,206
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's where I'm at. I think if GM had sdpent more on the styling of the front end it wouldn't have needed an ad campaign.

    Even non-gearheads are gonna look at the Camaro and Challenger and want to know more.

    GTO? Not so much.
     
  13. FiKtIOn

    FiKtIOn A bottle of Jack, a case of Pearl, and a pack of c

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2002
    Messages:
    2,800
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    :werd:

    GTO is great as a sleeper or a two-take type of car, but it just wasn't done right to reach mass popularity over here like the Monaro garnished over in Aussie-Land.
     
  14. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, at least the G8 sport truck is going to turn some heads.
     
  15. art_VW_shark

    art_VW_shark OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    Messages:
    156,683
    Likes Received:
    179
    Location:
    Bosstown
    .
     
  16. thedguy

    thedguy New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Pissing in the gene pool
    I also recall dealers were charging retarded mark-ups on the GTO's when they first came out. By the time they got their heads out of their asses, they couldn't shift 'em.

    GM is putting a lot of effort behind the G8, I know of quite a few people who are driving by Pontiac dealerships waiting for one to look at/test drive. I can't think of anyone who even knew the GTO had come out, or that they even released a new one.
     
  17. Mr.Right

    Mr.Right N2O

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Messages:
    1,772
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St.Louis, MO
    it obvious the guy doesn't like the car or pontiac, but has a hard-on for chrysler.
     
  18. Mjolnir

    Mjolnir WHM6D > *

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2007
    Messages:
    15,206
    Likes Received:
    0
    I like TTAC, but they aren't as good at hiding their prejudices as they think they are.
     
  19. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,737
    Likes Received:
    1,604
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    No it isn't. This is a completely different type of car.
     
  20. IslanderOffRoad

    IslanderOffRoad Do you even lift kit? OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2003
    Messages:
    73,540
    Likes Received:
    234
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    We'll see what the sales say.
     
  21. Mjolnir

    Mjolnir WHM6D > *

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2007
    Messages:
    15,206
    Likes Received:
    0
    If Chrysler can move 6 figures worth of Charger/300C every year with crappier interiors for more money, the G8 should be able to move 30,000 or so just by cannibalizing Dodge sales. Pontiac doesn't have to convert ANY Camcordima buyers to make this a winner.
     
  22. art_VW_shark

    art_VW_shark OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    Messages:
    156,683
    Likes Received:
    179
    Location:
    Bosstown
    hahah
     
  23. e-love

    e-love New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    The article is doodie- it doesn't even begin to consider all the possible convert categories. Sport sedan owners? Sports car owners that don't want a slouch around town? Luxery car owners looking for value?

    Take for example, my father who is eagerly anticipating getting his G8 GT. He has driven Lexuses/Lexi for years, and just got really bored with them and tired of paying so much for a car that only had 220 HP, takes premium gas, and gets barely 20 mpg.

    He (really me presenting his options since I'm the resident car guru in the family) was considering a BMW, but then here comes the G8- nice enough interior to carry business passengers, exciting performance, takes regular gas, and a steal for the price (comparitively speaking).

    The tone in that article was Mopar from the start, when he put the Charger on a pedestal, as the "obvious, inescapable template" for the G8.

    :ugh: The Charger/300? Uh yeah, no thanks.
     
  24. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    19,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    How much of that is fleet sales, though? If fleet sales are a large percentage, then the guy could be right about the V6 model being the make/break model.
     
  25. spooney

    spooney WTF Sony?

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2002
    Messages:
    5,987
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Montana

    I don't think Fleet sales are a consideration for this car, not nearly as much as cars like the charger/300 base models.
     

Share This Page