April 25, 2009

GM to eliminate iconic Pontiac brand

U.S. automaker General Motors will kill off its venerable Pontiac brand as part of a government-supervised restructuring plan, sources say.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the plan, The Detroit News reported Saturday that GM has already notified Pontiac dealers that the 83-year-old brand will be discontinued as part of a restructuring effort. The struggling auto giant will also close plants, cut jobs and negotiate with bondholders to cut $28 billion in debt, the News said.

GM officials will tell Congress Monday about the restructuring plans, which include keeping the GMC line of trucks, SUVs and vans, sources told the newspaper. The company is surviving on $15.4 billion in loans from the U.S. Treasury and is racing to implement a scheme to stay afloat before a June 1 deadline, after which it could be forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The loss of Pontiac will mean the end of an iconic brand that symbolized fast-driving, V-8-powered muscle cars in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The News said Pontiac sales fell 25 percent last year to 267,348, down from its late 1970s peak of about 900,000.

Its elimination will leave GM with four core brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.