Dreams aside, Pontiac will rely on small fwd cars

Automotive News reports on Pontiac model updates.

Automotive News

The dreams of making Pontiac into an exclusively rear-wheel-drive brand have been put on hold, possibly permanently.

Small front-drive cars will make up a significant portion of Pontiac's future product line. And like most everything in General Motors' stable, Pontiac's future lineup is affected by new corporate average fuel economy requirements and GM's tight cash supply.

The bottom line: It will be difficult to create a unique identity for Pontiac, separating it from Chevrolet.

G3: An entry-level car based on the Chevrolet Aveo is likely to be imported for the 2009 model year. The G3 would be developed on GM's global Gamma architecture.

Sedan: A sedan sized between the Aveo and Pontiac G5 is under consideration for Pontiac or Buick for the 2012 model year. Because Pontiac and Buick are sold under one roof at most dealerships, only one brand will get the car, which likely would be imported.

Sedan: In light of high gasoline prices, a Pontiac based on the 2010 Chevy Cruze may arrive as early as the 2011 model year. The car would be developed on GM's new fwd Delta global vehicle architecture. It likely will replace the G5.

G6:GM management has flipped-flopped product strategy on this model several times.

Initially, the automaker planned to restyle and re-engineer the G6 around the 2011 model year. The car was scheduled to be developed on GM's next-generation Epsilon vehicle architecture.

Then, in an effort to distinguish Pontiac from Chevrolet, GM decided to make Pontiac a rwd brand. The redesigned, rwd G6 was slated to debut around the 2012 model year. GM's new rwd Alpha architecture was expected to be used.

At this point, the G6 strategy is in flux.

G8: The G8, assembled in Australia, is the first car sold in the United States that was developed on GM's global rwd vehicle architecture, known as Zeta. The car went on sale earlier this year as a 2008 model.

Pontiac will expand the G8 line with a 2010 G8 sport truck, the G8 ST. The truck, a niche product also out of Holden, is reminiscent of the Chevrolet El Camino, which featured a small pickup bed.

Solstice: The 2009 product line is doubled with the addition of a fastback coupe.

The Solstice line will get higher-horsepower engines, but not a V-6. The car is a candidate for GM's new 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder engine.

What happens next will be based on Solstice sales and whether GM can afford a next generation.

Vibe: Pontiac launched a restyled, re-engineered Vibe for the 2009 model year. The hatchback likely won't be due for a freshening until the 2011 model year.

Torrent: The Torrent crossover ends production in 2009. That leaves Pontiac a car-only line, which is what GM wants it to be as part of the Buick-Pontiac-GMC sales channel.

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