From Micheline Maynard at the New York Times:
The brand that was once hailed as an important part of the future of General Motors now will be part of its past.
GM said Tuesday that it would phase out its Saturn brand by 2012. It does not plan to develop any more new vehicles for Saturn, which began 19 years ago as an effort to attract owners of small Japanese cars.
G.M. also said it was considering its options for the Pontiac division. The Pontiac name, part of the car business since 1932, could remain on some models, but may no longer be a separate division. G.M. said Pontiac would be a “focused brand” with fewer models.
The disclosures by G.M., contained in a viability plan submitted to the government, means that G.M. plans to cut its brands in half, to four: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.
It said last fall that it would try to find buyers for Hummer and Saab. On Tuesday, it said it would decide on Hummer’s fate by March 31.
But is four the right number?
After all, most of its big competitors, including Toyota, Honda and Chrysler, build their businesses around three brands or fewer in the United States. Ford is moving to shed its foreign brands and plans to focus primarily on three — Ford, Lincoln and Mercury.