When the Oldsmobile franchise dies, Buick, Pontiac and Chevrolet probably will inherit most of the Olds customers.
That is because Oldsmobile remains solidly a domestic-loyal brand for new-car shoppers, despite General Motors' efforts to change its demographics since the early 1990s.
Just how big that inheritance will be is difficult to forecast. Oldsmobile's volumes have been eroding steadily for 15 years. This year the line probably will sell fewer than 300,000 new cars and light trucks.
But based on current sales and existing consumer perceptions, at least 85 percent of Oldsmobile buyers probably will move to a domestic brand when Oldsmobile is gone, speculates Doug Scott, president of West Coast Operations for Allison-Fisher International Inc., an automotive research group.
GM will keep most of the displaced Olds customers, Scott believes. But small numbers also will gravitate to Chrysler group and Ford brands, based on surveys of recent shoppers. According to Allison-Fisher estimates, about 8 percent of Oldsmobile defectors typically buy a Chrysler product and 7 percent buy a Ford product.
'The customers will go preponderantly to Buick,' Scott predicts. 'If they are shopping for trucks, chances are it will be Chevrolet. And if it is the sportiness of the Olds products they have been shopping for, they probably will go to Pontiac.'