General Motors' marketing credo of tightly focused North American brands sounds hauntingly familiar. That's because GM has professed it several times before. Even Ron Zarrella, who came from outside the industry, was a believer.
But in 2001, Zarrella mistakenly thought each nameplate was a brand. Today, GM is feeding Chevrolet and Cadillac, which are good, successful brands, and developing good products for Saturn, which has a good brand reputation.
With two weak brands (Pontiac and Buick), the middle of the lineup is the challenge. Combining Pontiac, Buick and GMC to forge a strong dealer network means pruning some models and adding others so that combined sales of three distinct brands continue to total at least 1.2 million units.
It will be all too easy for that volume to fall if GM can't deliver the products and if the dealers can't deliver the sales.