GM COO Fritz Henderson said last night at the Automotive News World Congress that the company will market four core brands in the future: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC, along with a significantly reduced Pontiac. Saab and Hummer are still under strategic review, and Saturn's status quo must be changed, according to Henderson.
Henderson said the four core brands GM has identified constituted 83 percent of GM's total sales volume in the United States last year. The Pontiac brand would shrink substantially, he said, but the Buick brand will benefit here in the United States because of the heavy investing GM is doing in China. Henderson did not mention any specific plans for the company's Saturn brand, but did reinforce that the company would not survive in its current capacity. "We need to do something different with the Saturn brand," he said.
If oil prices remain low (prices Tuesday closed just below $39 per barrel), causing demand for fuel efficient and electric vehicles to decrease, GM's key future vehicles-including the Chevrolet Volt-will be jeopardized. GM is not planning on oil prices staying low, however. According to Henderson, the auto maker is planning its future business models around oil being $53 a barrel in 2009, and $130 to $160 in the coming years.
Henderson also said that if GM does not receive its second installment of $5.4 billion from the federal government, it will run out of cash before the end of March. GM was expecting the payment last week, but the administration changeover caused a delay.
GM will focus not only on streamlining operations and developing advanced technology, but also on amending its public image. "Our job is not only to build vehicles people want to buy, " Henderson said, "but to communicate that people want to buy our vehicles."
Source: Automotive News