Chicago Tribune, Business section (3) June 2, 2004 by Jim Mateja. Autos.
GTO's Sales Performance Gets Pontiac's Goat,
There are a few red faces at General Motors.
In the first four months of this year, sales of the Aztek SUV,
considered by many the most gosh - awful - looking vehicle on the
planet, totaled 7,416 units, down from 11,311 a year earlier. But the
countdown to Aztek obscurity is not what is causing the red faces.
In the same period, sales of Pontiac GTO totaled 2800 unit, meaning
Aztek outsold the highly touted performance coupe by more than 2 1/2 to
GTO is derived from the rear wheel drive Monaro produced by GM's Holden
operations in Australia.
Even before GTO went on sale in late December, critics complained that
the styling was plain and not suited to a nameplate that kicked off the
muscle car era in the 1960's.
While Pontiac is considering styling tweaks on future models to sooth
the critics, it insists that a many people like the look as object to it
and that styling hasn't held back sales.
" While we'd always like to sell more, we haven't been disappointed with
the GTO sales so far." Pontiac spokesman Tom Beaman said.
Not disappointed though Pontiac forecasts sales of 16,000 to 18,000
units a year and is on target to sell only about 7400 ?
But then, GTO was meant less as a styling exercise than a performance
statement with its 5.7 litre V-8 that produces a potent 350 horsepower.
Beaman cites a winter launch of a rear wheel drive preformance car as
one reason for slow early sales in the Northern states.
Of course, you have to ask why in the name of all that's holy would you
introduce a rear wheel drive performance car in the dead of winter in
But then, if anyone knew the answer to that question, they'd know why
7,416 bought the most gosh awful looking vehicle on this planet in the
first four months of this year.
Another problem, Beaman says, is Pontiac held to its commitment to
supply each of Pontiac's more than 2700 dealers with a GTO to use as a "
halo " vehicle to attract folks to the showrooms.
Those halos helped Pontiac sell 16% more cars in the period, though few
of them GTOs.
He also said that while the GTO didn't fare too well in the snow belt
over the winter, it's done well in southern California, where Pontiac is
tradionally weak. There, more than 40% of GTO sales are conquests -
captured from rival brands - so more GTO's will be shipped there.
Pontiac is also counting on " The Last Ride ", a made for TV movie that
airs Wednesday ( June 2 ) on the USA network, to raise awareness of the
Pontiac struck a product placement deal to feature the GTO in the film.
If TV expousure works, Pontiac should put Aztek on the tube. How about a
" Extreme Makeover "?