SEARCH BLOG: AUTOMOBILES
Yesterday, I posted that General Motors needed brand consolidation. Here is the history of GM's domestic brands from the mid-20th century [actually the six historical brands were around a lot longer than that].
Now compare that timeline with GM's U.S. market share which was once 2-1/2 times as large [source].
That's complex enough for a corporation with less than 20% of the automotive market share. But when combined with model complexity... that equals dilution... of engineering and design effort, marketing resources, service support, parts inventory and management staffs... as well as brand identity.
There are some models within these various brands that I found hard to fit into the categories above, like the Chevrolet HHR [small car/small CUV] and Camero [mid-sized coupe/convertable or Roadster/Sport].
Comparing this with Toyota and Lexus [from their websites], you see the difference.
While there are only two brands versus seven, Toyota seems to have caught some of the over-modeling disease of domestic brands. Lexus is particularly confusing with their alphabet soup, but Lexus has its niche following and doesn't overlap too much with the Toyota models. Toyota may be getting a bit too much into internal model overlap, but nothing near GM's situation.
General Motors needs to figure out what a suitable brand strategy for its situation is... presuming General Motors comes out of this economic hole. It isn't seven brands; it may be two or three.
These brands have little value beyond sentiment or outdated image:
- Pontiac [lost between Chevrolet and Saturn]
- Buick [a Cadillac wannabe without product breadth... GM's short version of Mercury]
- Hummer [humming to a different tune than the rest of the automotive market]
The Saturn strategy of being the "youth" and "innovation" brand got blurred over the years as models in Chevrolet and Pontiac replicated Saturn's niche vehicles.General Motors needs to clean house brands and trim staffs to a size commensurate with its market share. But it may be too little, too late. Let's hope for the sake of the U.S. economy that is not the case... because all of those service and professional jobs that don't rely on U.S. manufacturing seem to be disappearing, too.
GMC was always the premium truck brand, but now it has lost most of that distinction to Cadillac. It may have value as a medium/heavy truck brand, but probably not enough to make it worthwhile keeping over the long term.