Taking yet another step toward oblivion, General Motors announced today that it will kill the Pontiac brand in 2010. Thus ends another proud American name-plate, sacrificed on the altar of “free” trade.
President Obama had the power to breathe new life into the domestic auto industry when he took office by restoring a balance of trade in the auto industry, demanding that Japan, Korea, Germany and Mexico begin buying as many American-made autos as we buy from them, or face tariffs and import quotas. This would have almost instantly doubled domestic auto sales, breathing new life and profitability into GM, Ford and Chrysler, even as we headed further into recession. Additional shifts would have been added and idled plants restarted. This would have been a stimulus plan that put the one he opted for instead to shame. Instant results. No expense to the taxpayer.
But no. That would have made him a turd in the punch bowl at the G7 and G20 parties. Much better to drive the domestic automakers into bankruptcy, slash pay and benefits, kill off thousands of dealerships, stiff bondholders and shareholders and stick taxpayers with the bill.
What a shame. Pontiac made some of the most iconic models of all time including the G.T.O. and Firebird. I’ve only owned one Pontiac in my life, a used ’84 Fiero which, aside from my first car, a ’73 Corvette, was the most fun car I’ve ever owned. A mid-engined, 4-speed sports car with a composite body, independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and incredible handling for only $4,000. High insurance rates finally killed off demand among its target demographic. Too bad. It was a terrific sports car at a great price.
In my opinion, Pontiac still has the most attractive styling of all of the GM products available today (except Corvette, of course). The Pontiac G6 is as stylish as anything in its class and the styling of the G8 is in a class by itself. Then there’s the Solstice – the equivalent of a BMW Z4 at almost half the price. I’d be driving one now if I was in the market for a new car.
Obama has said that America needs a vibrant auto industry. But the plan seems to be to down-size it out of existence. In 2004, Oldsmobile bit the dust. Today it’s Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer. Along with those cuts come the closing of more plants, the elimination of almost half of its dealership network and the elimination of 21,000 more jobs.
If this was all part of a process of slowly reducing our population to a sustainable level, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But killing off the last vestiges of the manufacturing sector of our economy even as the population is expected to grow by at least 100 million people in the next forty years is a recipe for an economic catastrophe. Oh, wait, we already have one!