Pontiac Dropping GTO for 2007
GTO Nameplate Returns to the Shelf. According to Automotive News, when Pontiac‘s 2007 model year lineup comes out, the GTO will not be included. Sources told Automotive News that the company decided to drop GTO rather than re-certify for 2007, an expensive process. At the moment, there are no specific plans for a replacement, though certainly there are those among Pontiac’s staff that will consider the possibility in the future and Pontiac will not comepletely rule out another sporty car down the road. If you want one, GM says they will bring another 10,000 to 12,000 units into the country.
AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents had the opportunity to drive both versions of the GTO over its short three-year lifecycle, the 350HP 2004 version and the 400HP 2005 model. The 2005 model won AutoPacific’s vaunted Vehicle Satisfaction Award edging out the Ford Mustang for top honors much to the consternation of Ford’s upper management.
The GTO is fun to drive and a solid overall package. In large part because of the GTO badge, the car suffered much criticism for bland and boring styling. Labeling it GTO raised expectations to a level that the styling did not meet. The lesson to be learned here is that bland is worse than ugly for a sporty car, particularly one that intended to play on nostalgia for a fondly remembered, aggressive car like the original GTO.
GTO sales were disappointing from launch, for a variety of reasons. Along with the styling issues were problems at launch with distribution and allocation. Some owners had ordered and put deposits down, only to get their cars months after they could find one on dealer lots in their state, if not at the dealer from where they ordered, and in some cases later than the promised delivery date. It’s difficult to determine exactly how badly that boggle hurt sales, but the slow rollout certainly didn’t help initial enthusiasm or sales momentum. Having to deal with currency exchange rates with Australia did not help, as economic factors forced Pontiac to price the car significantly higher than they had wanted. For 2006, the base price is about $32,000, a far cry from the mid-$20,000 Pontiac was working toward.
Though Pontiac readjusted allocation and expectations such that they considered 2005 sold out, sales in 2005 were only about 11,590 units, a 14.5% drop from 2004 and well below the initial target of about 18,000 units. Despite that GTO is gaining traction and selling in areas of the country where Pontiac is a weaker player, GM must make difficult decisions on capital allocation and dropping the GTO is also tied to their current financial situation.
GTO’s Image Unsuccessful in the Halo Role
In the end, this image car did not bring enough image to Pontiac. It did not work as a halo car, which are as much about generating traffic and improving brand image as they are about profits. Cost constraints meant that the car didn’t get aggressive enough styling, though in terms of powertrain, suspension, and package the car was light years beyond the old GTO or even the Firebird. Based on an Australian Holden Monaro (now dropped), the cost of meeting U.S. regulations left little money in the budget for changing sheetmetal. Though the car was gaining ground and finding a customer base, in the end it was too little too late to save it.