DETROIT -- General Motors Co., seeking to prevent the owner defections it saw when Oldsmobile died, is offering four free maintenance visits this year to current Pontiac owners.
GM mailed the offer in the last month to anyone who owns a 1999 or later Pontiac purchased new or as a certified used vehicle. That’s about a million people, said Brian Sweeney, general manager of Buick-GMC, in an interview last week.
The owners can redeem the offer, good for oil changes and tire rotations, at any Buick-GMC dealership in the United States. The offers point each owner to a specific store nearby.
“It’s to keep the relationship with the Buick-GMC dealer,” Sweeney said. “We thought the best way to do that was through service.”
Staying in touch with Pontiac owners is the No. 1 priority for Buick-GMC dealers this year as they move on without the Pontiac franchise, said Mike Mullaney, a dealer from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who represents those brands’ dealers on GM’s National Dealer Council.
“One of our most important tasks is keeping those customers in the database and keeping them as service customers until such a time that the Buick portfolio has developed fully,” he said in an interview earlier this month. For instance, dealers are waiting for the Buick Regal, due in the spring.
GM decided in April to phase out the Pontiac brand and ended 2009 with just 800 units in Pontiac inventory. Since 2004, 80 percent of Oldsmobile drivers have defected to non-GM brands, Automotive News reported in September.
GM introduced Pontiac in 1926. GM decided to kill Oldsmobile in 2000, three years after its 100th anniversary, and built the last Olds in April 2004.