DETROIT -- General Motors' distribution strategy for its brands isn't just focused on realigning Buick, Pontiac and GMC. GM also will encourage Cadillac, Saab and Hummer franchises to consolidate under one owner.
GM says this will simplify distribution and create a consistent level of service for premium vehicles.
Single ownership of Cadillac, Hummer and Saab franchises would allow sharing back-office functions - accounting and service areas, for example. Each brand would have its own showroom.
GM is not demanding that dealers sell stores and is not offering incentives for them to make changes. But "as opportunities present themselves over time, that's the way we're steering it," says Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president for vehicle sales, service and marketing in North America.
At GM's annual shareholder meeting in Wilmington, Del., last week, CEO Rick Wagoner said the Cadillac-Saab-Hummer link is part of GM's sales and marketing restructuring.
"This means getting our dealers on channel," Wagoner said. "Chevrolet and Saturn remaining as stand-alone facilities; Buick-Pontiac-GMC grouped together; Cadillac, Hummer and Saab as premium channels but in many cases under the same owner."
Wagoner said the consolidation is a "looser one" with Cadillac, Saab and Hummer than it is with Buick, Pontiac and GMC. But it is "one that will develop as market forces and our discussions with dealers bring it along," he said.
LaNeve says a majority of GM's 200 Saab dealerships are stand-alone stores. About 30 are paired with Cadillac, LaNeve says. Approximately 60 percent of GM's 169 Hummer dealerships also are paired with Cadillac, LaNeve says.
Says LaNeve: "If a Saab dealer came to us and said he was going to retire, we would encourage him to talk to a Cadillac dealer.
"In many markets it makes a lot of sense to have a common owner for two or three of the brands with a separate showroom and a common fixed area."
Jamie LaReau contributed to this report
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