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Clarke: GM able to shrink to 4 core U.S. brands

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Clarke: GM able to shrink to 4 core U.S. brands

Lutz: Pontiac to shrink to six-vehicle line

Jamie LaReau
Automotive News
January 12, 2009 - 12:01 am ET
UPDATED: 1/12/09 9:10 a.m. EST

DETROIT -- General Motors, seeking buyers for Saab and Hummer, will be able to follow through with plans to shrink to four core brands, North American President Troy Clarke says.

As part of the survival strategy submitted to Congress last month, GM said it intends to focus U.S. product and marketing resources on Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC. On Sunday at the Detroit auto show, Clarke said the company will be able to execute the plan, even as the global credit crisis chills merger and acquisition activity.

"We have to re-engineer the way we're doing business in many regards," Clarke said. "We're going to be a smaller company."

The automaker began a "strategic review" of the Hummer SUV line in June. Last week, GM sources told Automotive News that Sweden-based Saab has failed to attract suitors.

Meanwhile, Pontiac will dwindle to a six-vehicle line, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said here in a separate interview on Sunday. The cars: the G6, G8, G5, Vibe, Solstice and Solstice hardtop coupe.

In the viability plan -- submitted as part of GM's effort to win $13.4 billion in federal bailout loans -- GM also said it would consider options for Saturn, without saying whether the line would be sold or shuttered.

"We've entered into a very, very open and candid dialogue with our Saturn retailers,'' Clarke said. Saturn, launched 19 years ago, has been successful in terms of brand attributes, he said. But "it just hasn't been a good business for us."

Saturn's only annual profit came in 1993.

"We need some breakthrough options here," Clarke said. "We can't continue brands that have no prospect of earning their way."

GM will be able to work within state franchise laws as it whittles its dealer count, Clarke said. GM has calculated the estimated costs, he said, without elaborating.

In the viability plan it submitted to Congress, GM said it planned to go from 6,600 dealers to 4,700 by 2012
 

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