Pontiac eliminates Bonneville
GM blames falling sales, shifts in consumer tastes for dropping large sedan.
By Ed Garsten / The Detroit News
The long-running car named for Utah'* famed salt flats has finally run out of gas.
Citing declining sales and shifting consumer tastes, General Motors Corp. told employees last week that production of the Pontiac Bonneville sedan will end this summer at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant.
No jobs will be lost because the factory will continue to produce other large cars, including the new Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS, GM said.
Pontiac introduced the Bonneville name in February 1957 at the Daytona Beach races, but didn't introduce it as a product line until 1958.
It was the first Pontiac with fuel injection and was initially available only as a convertible. Considered an upscale model, the Bonneville competed with other popular large cars at the time, including the Chrysler 300 and DeSoto Golden Adventurer.
It evolved over the years into a roomy family sedan with plenty of power. But as the public'* tastes in family haulers shifted to minivans, sport utility vehicles and crossover vehicles, Bonneville'* core market evaporated.
"After much discussion, it is in the best interest of Pontiac to align our product portfolio with where demand is," Pontiac spokesman Rick Crooks said. "Demand in the large car segment has been declining for some years."
Pontiac has revamped its car lineup with products such as the G6, which replaced the Grand Am, and entered new segments with the Vibe hatchback and Torrent, a small SUV.
The division attempted to revive the Bonneville with a high-performance V-8 GXP version, but it wasn't enough.
Pontiac sold nearly 100,000 Bonnevilles as recently as 1992, but demand fell to 29,852 last year, according to Ward'* Automotive Reports. Sales peaked at 135,401 units in 1966.
For some dealers, the Bonneville'* demise is bittersweet.
"It'* a shame," said Rochester Pontiac-Buick dealer Russ Shelton. "We won't have a full-size vehicle to sell to a Pontiac buyer."