GM contract with Pontiac ends today

CHICAGO - JUNE 01: A sign hangs above Roseland Pontiac June 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The dealership has been selling General Motors vehicles at this location since 1911. This 98-year relationship will end when GM, which today entered into bankruptcy, discontinues the Pontiac brand later next year.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

JEREMY HOBSON: The Pontiac brand is no more. Last night was the expiration date for contracts between parent company General Motors and Pontiac dealers. It's been a slow death for the brand -- after 84 years.

Marketplace's Scott Tong is on the Pontiac beat for us this morning and he joins us live from Washington with more. Good morning.

SCOTT TONG: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: We knew this was coming, remind us why Pontiac is going away.

TONG: Well, last year, as a condition as GM's bailout with the government, it had to shed four brands. So out went Pontiac, along with Saab and Saturn and Hummer. The last Pontiac vehicle rolled off the line about 11 months ago just outside of Detroit, Jeremy.

HOBSON: And Pontiac, Scott, used to embody the American muscle car. What happened to that brand?

TONG: Well, in the 1960s, Pontiac was America's number three brand behind Chevy and Ford. There was the Pontiac GTO, with a huge engine and wide wheelbase. And then of course the Trans Am, Burt Reynolds co-star in Smokey and the Bandit. And its descendant known as Kitt, star of the TV show Knight Rider. But the oil shocks of the 70s and new mileage rules changed the industry to more fuel-sipping cars. I spoke this morning with to Peter Wells at Cardiff University in the U.K. about the 1970s macho car era.

PETER WELLS: In those days Americans didn't care how much petrol they burned on the way from A to B, and were happy to kind of celebrate those big engines. Those days are really gone for Americans and for the rest of the world, in fact. And so in many respects, the muscle car is like rock and roll, part of our history.

As for the future of the company, Jeremy, Pontiac warranties will still be serviced by GM facilities. As for the company, its future will be embodied by the plug in Chevy Volt, which we expect next month.

HOBSON: OK Marketplace's Scott Tong in Washington, thanks.

TONG: You're welcome.


Check out our photo tribute to Pontiac here.

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