Last year, General Motors boasted its vehicles' fuel efficiency by pointing out that it offered 20 vehicle models that got at least 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Following the announcement that the Saturn brand will not survive into next year and Pontiac will be gone by the end of 2010, GM will lose 60 percent of its most fuel-efficient vehicles including two hybrid models. Accounting for 12 of the 20 vehicles included in GM's over 30 mile per gallon club, the loss of Saturn and Pontiac will definitely impact GM's fuel economy credibility. It is not clear which, if any, vehicles GM plans to switch over to its remaining core brands (Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC), but cars like the Saturn Aura, Saturn VUE and Pontiac Vibe will definitely be missed.
While the trimming of the brands from eight down to four will eliminate mindless badge engineering efforts such as the Pontiac G3, the Saturn VUE Two-Mode Hybrid or Pontiac Vibe will be the most significant losses for GM. In its current form, the Vibe wouldn't fit in at GMC, Cadillac or Buick and Chevy already has the Chevrolet HHR as a hatchback, it remains unclear what will happen with GM and Toyota's California-based joint venture, New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI). Unless Buick was to offer a compact sedan based on the Corolla, NUMMI may be in jeopardy. The compact two-mode hybrid system currently used on the VUE could transfer to other GM Theta platform crossovers such as the 2010 GMC Terrain, 2010 Chevrolet Equinox or the 2010 Cadillac SRX.
Looking to the future, Chevrolet already has plans to introduce the Cruze compact sedan and Volt extended-range electric vehicle for the 2011 model year. Other fuel-efficient possibilities include a new front-wheel drive Cadillac based on the Epsilon II platform or a small Buick sedan based off GM's Delta II platform.
Once Saturn and Pontiac are dissolved, the most fuel-efficient vehicle in GM's arsenal will continue to be the Chevrolet Aveo, while the mild-hybrid version of the Chevy Malibu will stand as the only hybrid car remaining in its lineup. Despite the loss of Saturn's hybrid vehicles and Pontiac's smaller cars, GM isn't expected to lose much ground in its Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE average since HUMMER, Saab and Pontiac's less fuel efficient models will also be lost.