Tim O'Brien | Jul 16, 2008

How is the Pontiac G8 faring in the stagnating US market, you ask? At this point, sitting on portfolio of salivating reviews by the US automotive press, you would be inclined to say “starring”.

“Judging by our first drives, the G8 GT is good indeed. Good enough, in fact, to merit BMW, Infiniti, and Lexus intenders dropping by the Pontiac store for a serious look," Motor Trend reported.

The prestigious Car and Driver was similarly taken, “This Pontiac is spacious, fast, and agile. It's a looker, and it's surprisingly affordable," it said.

AutoWeek took up the theme of the G8’s dynamics, "The G8 sedan has a sporty feel, great handling and a powerful engine, plus it has the extra room to carry kids in the back."

Even more effusive was Left Lane News, “Overall, the Pontiac G8 GT is one of the best sports sedans on the market for the price. No other American sedan offers the same experience at this price point. Simply put, the G8 is a driver’s car... the G8 GT will practically go anywhere you ask it to; a feeling usually reserved for European sports sedans.”

But good reviews mean nothing if they fail to translate into sales.

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For Holden, with the US economy in meltdown (and GM, Chrysler and Ford having rogered themselves senseless with their previous undying love of SUVs) there has not been a worse time in thirty-plus years to be trying to penetrate the market.

With GM down 18% in June, Chrysler down 36%, and Ford down 28% (see US Automotive Giants teeter at the brink), you might expect some long faces at Holden.

The news however is not so bad. The G8, early in its first year on the market, has become one of the ten fastest-selling sedans in the US through the first half of 2008.

As the US Kicking Tires site reports, in June the Pontiac G8 spent an average of just 23 days in showrooms before sale, tying with the Mazda5 in equal third place for ‘speed of sale’ among family sedans, wagons and hatchbacks. In this, it is beaten only by the Prius and Camry Hybrid in the segment. (And in April, the G8 was only 16 days in showrooms.)

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During June, 2008, 1,536 G8s were sold. While this is down from May 2008 sales of 1,831, June had only 24 selling days versus May’s 27. This is less than GM Holden’s expressed expectations, but few foresaw the scale of the problem about to beset the US economy and the knock-on impact on vehicle sales.

So - as reported on the Kicking Tires site - for June 2008, the top ten movers of non-luxury sedans, wagons and hatchbacks (showing the number of days typically spent on the lot or in the showroom) are:

Top 10 Movers: Non-Luxury Sedans, Wagons and Hatchbacks

  • 2008 Toyota Prius: 11 days
  • 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid: 17 days
  • 2008 Mazda5: 23 days
  • 2008 Pontiac G8: 23 days
  • 2008 Chevy Malibu: 24 days
  • 2008 Chevy Impala: 29 days
  • 2008 Toyota Camry: 31 days
  • 2008 VW Jetta: 33 days
  • 2009 Hyundai Sonata: 36 days
  • 2008 Toyota Avalon: 37 days

Then there’s the other top ten - the showroom losers - the list that no-one wants to be on:

Top 10 Losers: Non-Luxury Sedans, Wagons and Hatchbacks

  • 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis: 223 days
  • 2008 Mitsubishi Galant: 218 days
  • 2008 Pontiac Grand Prix: 162 days
  • 2008 Hyundai Sonata: 149 days
  • 2008 Toyota Camry (superseded model): 125 days
  • 2008 Ford Taurus: 120 days
  • 2008 Mercury Sable: 119 days
  • 2008 Kia Amanti: 117 days
  • 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid (superseded model): 109 days
  • 2008 Dodge Avenger: 96 days

Of interest is that despite a crippled economy, it seems that the upper end of the market – the luxury performance sector - is still travelling ok.

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Curious to note however is that Mercedes-Benz C63, BMW M3 and Lexus IS F are selling quickly, but the Mercedes-Benz E63, BMW M5 and Audi S4 are hanging around – unloved and unsold - in showrooms and on vehicle lots, for months. (Kicking Tires)

Top 10 Movers: Luxury Sedans

  • 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63: 7 days
  • 2009 Acura TSX: 15 days
  • 2008 BMW 528xi: 16 days
  • 2008 BMW M3: 17 days
  • 2008 Cadillac CTS: 18 days
  • 2008 Lexus IS F: 18 days
  • 2008 BMW 535xi: 19 days
  • 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350: 21 days
  • 2008 Audi A4 Avant (wagon): 22 days
  • 2008 BMW 528i: 23 days

Top 10 Losers: Luxury Sedans

  • 2008 Jaguar S-Type: 202 days
  • 2008 Mercedes-Benz E63: 128 days
  • 2008 Acura TSX: 127 days
  • 2008 Acura RL: 123 days
  • 2008 BMW M5: 110 days
  • 2008 Audi S4: 108 days
  • 2008 Jaguar X-Type: 107 days
  • 2008 Lexus GS 460: 100 days
  • 2008 Jaguar XJ 8L: 100 days
  • 2008 Audi A3 hatchback: 89 days