To the Editor:
In the late 1970s, when Chrysler was going through what General Motors is now, I was a product planner with Chrysler. We were all asked for cost-cutting ideas; I proposed that we restrict the corporate health insurance program to catastrophic coverage.
That suggestion was considered to be off-the-wall, probably ranking several steps below ways to reduce the use of paper clips. GM now claims that its health insurance burden is greater than the cost of the steel in its vehicles.
Since Toyota appears to be headed inexorably toward being the world's No. 1 automotive manufacturer with just three brands, the previously held assumption that it's wise to have numerous brands to capitalize on a variety of brand images is being stood on its head.
The Saab car is dead, but GM is in denial. Automotive News showed that on Nov. 1, Saab dealers were burdened with 22,000 cars, a 15-month supply. Toyota's Lexus, a Saab competitor, had a field inventory of 33,100 vehicles, which dealers could turn in one month, seven days.
GM cannot continue to juggle eight domestic brands; shedding Saab is a first small step.
Hummer should be folded into GMC.
Chevrolet and Cadillac are succeeding in their traditional fields.
An interesting simplification would be to make a single Buick model, to be sold by Pontiac dealerships. Its positioning would be analogous to that of the Corvette. But retain its brand identity; focus on its glamorous heritage.
Saturn makes no sense.