GM offers deep discounts on Saturn, Pontiac brands

December 29, 2009

GM offers deep discounts on Saturn, Pontiac brands


News of General Motors’ aggressive discounting program for outgoing Saturn and Pontiac vehicles led to an avalanche of end-of-the-year businesses for GM dealerships — and consumers might be challenged to find the model they want.

“I’m down to about 15 cars and it could be even less,” said Russ Shelton, owner of Shelton Buick-GMC in Rochester Hills. All of those, he added, were Pontiac G6s.

GM is paying dealers $7,000 for remaining Saturn and Pontiac models in what amounts to a sweetened incentive aimed at clearing inventories of the brands that are being discontinued as part of GM’s post-bankruptcy restructuring.

As of Nov. 30, Pontiac dealers had 8,500 vehicles in its U.S. stock, while Saturn dealers had 5,700, GM spokesman Tom Henderson said.

The new incentive program plan, which is in effect through Jan. 4, allows dealers to sell the remaining 2009 vehicles as used cars at whatever price they want, although sales will count as new vehicle sales for GM in December.

While dealers were notified of the program earlier this month, publicity about the program today seemed to be stimulating sales — but not necessarily at a profit.

Jerry Seiner, a large GM dealer with two Pontiac showrooms in the Salt Lake City area, said his stock of Pontiacs is down to about 30 days supply, which he was confident he could sell even without the latest discount. Previously, Pontiac offered either a $6,500 rebate, or 0% financing for up to 72 months and a $1,500 rebate.

“The goal is to get those units out of inventory so we can move on,” Seiner said. “With sadness, we’re taking the Pontiac name off our license plate frames.”

Models covered under the new program include the Pontiac G3, G5, G6, G8, Solstice and Torrent, and Saturn Sky, Aura, Astra and Outlook. The program does not apply to Hummer or Saab models.

Buyers of models under the program will still have new car warranty coverage, minus the miles driven before the sale.

“The warranty starts when the vehicle is placed into rental service by the dealer,” Henderson said. “It can then be transferred to subsequent owners according to the terms of the GM limited warranty.”

Saturn and Pontiac owners can have their vehicles serviced at their current dealerships. Some Pontiac dealerships have already been consolidated with Buick and GMC. Others will be wound down. No matter what happens to a customer’s dealership, he or she will be able to receive service from other GM dealers.

With aggressive rebates already in place those inventories are much smaller today. Some dealers might want to keep a certain number of Pontiacs or Saturns as loaners for customers who need to keep their vehicles overnight for maintenance.

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