When General Motors Co. sells the last new Pontiac sometime in the next few months, the 84-year-old brand will pass into the history books. But it will linger in GM's corporate rearview mirror for years.
That's because more than 1 million Pontiacs on the road are still under warranty.
GM is bound by federal law to provide replacement parts for Pontiacs for at least 10 years or the useful life of a vehicle. But GM has another motive for making sure those drivers stay happy: It wants to shift Pontiac owners to one of its four surviving brands -- Chevrolet, GMC, Buick or Cadillac -- for new purchases.
That will be difficult. At a recent dealer meeting in suburban Detroit, GM officials told Buick-GMC-Pontiac dealers that the company must do a better job of retaining Pontiac owners than it did keeping Oldsmobile buyers when that brand died in 2004.
In the past five years, 80 percent of Oldsmobile drivers have defected to non-GM brands.
"We have to do a better job of focusing on what the customers' needs are and how we can respond better than we have in the past," GM spokesman John McDonald says.