Pontiac, Saturn May Be Sold Out By the Time You Read This

Last Updated Dec 30, 2009 1:12 PM EST

So long, Pontiac and Saturn. General Motors put a symbolic "final clearance" tag on both brands to sell out inventory as soon as possible, so GM can put all its energies into Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.

GM is closing Pontiac and Saturn as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. Pontiac hit its glory days when it sold more than 800,000 cars a year from 1965 to 1968. Since then, Pontiac had its ups and downs -- mostly downs -- but reached a sales record of close to 900,000 cars in 1978, according to Automotive News.

Pontiac sales in 2009 dwindled to 169,890 in the first 11 months, down 32 percent from the year-ago period, according to AutoData Corp. Automotive News estimated that as of Dec. 1, at the present sales rate, Pontiac had less than a month's worth of inventory.

Leaving nothing to chance, GM is offering dealers $7,000 each on unsold Pontiacs and Saturns, to move the cars into their demo-car fleets and sell them as used cars, according to Edmunds.com.

Saturn peaked in 1994 at 286,003 units. The Saturn brand debuted in 1990. Through November, Saturn sales were down 62 percent to 67,576. As of Dec. 1, Saturn had an estimated 36-day supply of unsold inventory, according to Automotive News.

GM is already offering so much money on new Pontiacs and Saturns - about $6,500 in incentives, including the value of zero-percent loans for up to 72 months - that the latest incentive is largely symbolic, according to Edmunds.com.

"This program is more hype than substance," said Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. "There is no benefit for the consumer to purchase a used vehicle when a new vehicle can be had for a similar price."

Photo: GM