The last year has been one of unimaginable change for GM. It lost the title of world's largest automaker to Japanese rival Toyota, accepted billions of government dollars, saw its CEO surgically removed by the President of the United States, entered bankruptcy, and will shed four of its brands. That last point was the topic of a worldwide consumer poll: Which of GM's brands do people think GM should hang on to?
The survey was conducted by online website CarGurus. When asked which of GM's brands they'd like to see live on, 1700 consumers responded. 44 percent said they'd like to see Pontiac live on, followed by Hummer with 27 percent of the vote, Saab with 20 percent, and Saturn with just 9 percent.
"Pontiac has a trailblazing heritage - the 1964 Pontiac GTO is widely credited with starting the muscle-car craze - and its current G6 is the 20th best-selling car in the U.S., so I'm not surprised to see consumers vote to save this historic brand," said the CEO of CarGurus, Langley Steinert.
"What did surprise me, however, was the relative popularity of the Hummer brand over that of Saab and Saturn."
Pontiac is the only brand so far that GM has said it will completely ax. With no probable buyers and a lineup that (mostly) eats up sales from Chevrolet, GM decided to end Pontiac after the 2010 model year. Hummer, meanwhile, will likely be sold to a Chinese manufacturer, Saab will be sold to supercar maker Koenigsegg, and Saturn will be taken over by dealership juggernaut Roger Penske.
Despite its mostly rebadged-Chevrolet lineup, Pontiac's storied past and promising vehicles make it an unsurprising first choice for salvation. The Pontiac Solstice and G8 are true enthusiast cars, while the G6 and Vibe appealed to the public. But the G3, G5, and Torrent diluted the Pontiac lineup, and confused the brand's identity. Pontiac has sold almost 30,000 G6s so far this year, down from about 71,000 during the same time period last year - but sales of the G8 sedan were up 68.3 percent in May, evidence of that car's gaining appeal.
Hummer, meanwhile, continues to appeal to buyers of SUVs that can afford the high price tag and refused to join the "green" bandwagon, while Saab has a notoriously faithful following. Perhaps the biggest surprise - and perhaps the most foreboding - is Saturn's placement at the bottom of the list. Even with its generally loyal customers and an excellent lineup of vehicles, few oppose GM's decision to sell the brand. While that doesn't bode well for Penske, we hope he will be able to turn Saturn's fortunes around.