While the announcement of a Pontiac closure has shocked few but angered several, one of the more surprising tidbits to emerge from the announcement was a GM spokesman’s admission that the Pontiac Vibe will not be rebadged as a Buick, Cadillac, or Chevrolet.
The Vibe is GM’s product from its joint venture with Toyota, dubbed New United Motor Manufacturing Inc, or NUMMI, located in Fremont, California. While GM produces the Vibe at the NUMMI plant, Toyota makes the Corolla compact and Tacoma pickup truck there. The Vibe is a hatchback based on the Toyota Matrix (which is built in Canada), and GM doesn’t have a comparable product under any of its other badges. While the Chevrolet Aveo5 is also a hatchback, it’s a smaller, Korean built car.
A GM spokesman said the company is content with the Vibe. Last year, the hatchback was Pontiac’s bestselling vehicle after the G6, which comes in three different body styles. Pontiac moved 46,551 units in 2008 up 25 percent from 2007. Sales through March are down 16 percent compared with last year, but the Vibe is still Pontiac’s third-best selling vehicle (the G8 sedan has moved into the second place spot).
“There’s nothing really wrong with the Vibe,” said spokesman Jim Hopson. “It’s only problem right now is that it is a Pontiac.”
When asked if the Vibe might continue under another badge, Hopson said no. Instead, GM is seeking to build another vehicle there.
“We’re negotiating to see how best to utilize the facility going forward,” said Hopson. “We’re clearly not backing away from our partnership at NUMMI. There’s no issue of us backing away from NUMMI.”
While speculation will undoubtedly run rampant, it’s likely that whatever vehicle emerges from talks between GM, Toyota and NUMMI will likely be built for Chevrolet. With increase fuel efficiency mandates in the pipeline, GM can’t afford to give up a successful small car platform like the Vibe.
Source: Automotive News