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Lutz Reads Ridelust: Says GM Needs Fewer Brands

Posted in auto industry, Car Branding, Detroit, GM, Newsworthy, Saturn by Vito Rispo | December 13th, 2008 | Leave a Reply |

GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz made it clear in an interview last week that, if the company does actually survive its current crisis, it will need to cut a few brands, and spend more marketing the remaining brands. Sounds like he read our recent post, 9 Detroit Auto Brands We’d Miss The Least.

Lutz is the man in charge of product development, so he’s the one that will be overseeing the cuts. “It’s really much better to have fewer brands, do it well and then market the hell out of them,” he said.

The restructuring plan that GM proposed to Congress calls for reducing the number of nameplates from 48 to 40 by 2012 and cutting 1,750 dealers by 2012. As for which nameplates, Hummer is already for sale, and Lutz has hinted that Saab and Saturn will most likely be the others to go. “They’re under strategic review,” he said, “We realize they’re not working, and something needs to be done.”

GM can save a ton by chopping off a few brands. The Saturn Aura is a perfect example. It was developed from the same platform as the Chevy Malibu. “To do a unique version of a sedan that already exists, you’re talking about three quarters of a billion dollars,” Mr. Lutz said. “Reducing the number of nameplates is a way to save money.”

Everyone knows the Malibu, but have you seen an Aura on the road? Better yet, have you ever heard of the Saturn Aura?

In the first 11 months of 2008, GM sold 160,898 Malibus in the United States, but only 56,194 Auras.

There are just too many brands out there to keep track of. GM needs to narrow it down and focus their marketing dollars on the few left behind, to cultivate brand identity. Keep reading us, Bob.

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