DETROIT -- Pontiac has no plans to replace the Sunfire small car in the United States, even though Chevrolet is replacing its sister vehicle, the Cavalier, next year.
General Motors' Lordstown, Ohio, plant will assemble the Sunfire for several years alongside Chevrolet's new car, the Cobalt, according to Lori Queen, GM vehicle line executive for small cars.
That means Pontiac will woo small-car buyers with the aging Sunfire, introduced in 1994, and the Vibe hatchback.
Although U.S. dealers will keep the Sunfire, GM will replace the vehicle in Canada with a new nameplate, the Pursuit, next year. Both the Pursuit and the Cobalt will be built on GM's new Delta small-car architecture. Like the Cobalt and Sunfire, it will be assembled in Lordstown.
Meanwhile, Pontiac is not ruling out replacing the Sunfire with another small car.
"Pontiac has to decide from a portfolio standpoint where they want to go, what's the right number, what's the right vehicle, for their entry-level strategy," Queen says.
U.S. sales of the Pontiac Vibe are a key factor, she adds. Pontiac is pleased with Vibe sales - 28,521 this year through May, compared with 15,154 Sunfires.
"If the Vibe takes off and it's really hot, you have to question how many small cars they can sustain," Queen says.
Lynn Myers, Pontiac-GMC marketing general manager, says the division has different entry-level strategies in the United States and Canada because of differences in the two markets.
"The Vibe plays a much bigger role for us in the States," Myers says. "We'll sell over 60,000 Vibes in the U.S. this year."
Myers says Pontiac is weighing options for a low-priced entry but is unlikely to follow Chevrolet by using a Korean-made car priced below the Cobalt.