For the past few weeks, Mark LaNeve has been outlining a new strategy for General Motors.
The plan makes a lot of sense - if GM can get everyone on board. And the sooner, the better.
GM is not planning to eliminate any brands but merely to regroup them. A couple of brands at GM can't pull their weight by themselves anymore.
There was a time when Pontiac, Buick and Oldsmobile each sold close to a million units a year. That's great for the history books, but now Pontiac and Buick are selling half or a third of that. And LaNeve, the head of vehicle sales, service and marketing for GM North America, has to do what's right for today, not yesterday.
Basically, GM will have three full-line dealership groups: Chevrolet, Cadillac and the combined Pontiac-Buick-GMC.
LaNeve is convinced that Saturn is on the brink of a renaissance. GM still has to figure out where Saab fits in the GM portfolio. And GM seems convinced that Hummer is strong enough to stand alone as a specialty brand.
It makes sense to group Buick, Pontiac and GMC together. It maintains the brands and their sales and enables dealers to get the brands into the right stores at good volume.
One way to protect your market share and your customers is to maintain and even expand your brands. To eliminate another brand would have been foolish and expensive.
As always, the challenge is to support smaller brands that are competing with bigger brands with bigger advertising budgets. Certainly LaNeve has it right when he says that he'd rather have a few strong products at Pontiac or Buick than a large and overlapping portfolio of mediocre models.
Any restructuring of GM dealerships will take a while, but it makes sense for the future.
GM has to have great products. In a world where merely good products fail, that's a simple premise that has existed for a long time. It has never been more critical.
But LaNeve is putting a sensible sales and marketing structure in place. Now GM must give the combined dealerships the products that will support this new dealership structure.