As you’ve no doubt heard, General Motors is transitioning into concentrating on four core brands — Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac.
That means the other four brands in its current portfolio — Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Hummer — will soon be persona non core.
If you’re a current owner of one of those brands, or considering purchasing one, you might be asking where you go for service and warranty work, when GM takes its signs down at the end of the year?
The answer, however, is not straightforward, at least not at this time. There is still stuff in play.
We don’t have anything official from GM as it didn’t get back to us before deadline, but we gleamed a few scenarios from talking to industry executives and dealers.
First off, let’s confirm that you will have someplace to go — it’s the law. And if it weren’t the law, either GM or the entity that ultimately controls the brands in the future, would still be standing behind these products; otherwise it would just be business suicide.
“No one is ever going to leave consumers high and dry,” says Moray Keith, who heads up a large GM dealer group based in Vancouver.
“You’re going to be able to get parts and have that vehicle repaired for as long as you own the vehicle. GM has always done that…”
There is still some positioning going on, as to who will own the soon-to-be ex-GM brands, and their respective stores in Canada, and that will affect where consumers go for warranty work.
Pontiac is the most straightforward. GM is not selling the brand. So Pontiac customers simply go back to GM dealers.
The Penske group is trying to buy the Saturn dealer chain in the U.S., and sell cars sourced from GM and others. Currently they have no plans for Canada.
Until or unless something develops on this front, Canadian Saturn owners would presumably be going to GM dealers for warranty work, or going to still-open former Saturn operations for non-warranty related items.
Saab and Hummer owners would be in a similar position. GM is in the process of selling Saab to a Swedish company. A Chinese firm wants Hummer. Neither of those buyers announced any specifics about future Canadian models or distribution systems.
Any possible sale would determine who holds the warranty liability. In the meantime, assume GM is on the hook.
So someone will have your back, we’re just not sure who.
But you should also be aware that, when it comes to brand upheaval, there are shades of gray.
“If you have a Pontiac that shares almost all of its components with a Chevy, you really don’t have to worry,” says George Iny of the Automobile Protection Association, a non-profit that promotes the interests of automotive consumers.
But he’s not so sure about vehicles that have no North American GM twin, like the Australian-built Pontiac G8, the European-built Saabs, and the Saturn Astra, which is built in Belgium by a company (Opel) that GM has been told to sell.
Not only will you possibly need to go to a GM dealer who never serviced those vehicles prior to this, he also raises the spectre of “long term issues with parts pricing and parts availability.”
The other thing to rattle around our brains, is that some of these soon-to-be ex-GM cars are simply great cars, and, because of their circumstances, are now being offered at great prices you’ll probably never see again.
We’ll leave it up to you.
– Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for over 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.