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Why Did Pontiac Discontinue the Solstice Model?

The Pontiac Solstice was a roadster that stood out among virtually every other automobile produced. Although it was only in production for a relatively short time, it definitely made its mark on the automotive world. In fact, it even proved to be immensely popular with people that didn't readily identify as “car people”. Even for those who had long since given up the idea of owning a sports car, this particular automobile made them think twice about that decision. That said, it was only in production for a short while, as previously mentioned. The question is, if it was so popular, why was it discontinued after only a few short years?

The Introduction of the Pontiac Solstice

Pontiac decided to introduce the Solstice in 2004, as a concept model at an auto show. To say that it was popular would be a dramatic understatement. The truth is, people absolutely fell in love with it and they couldn't take their eyes off of it. Pontiac knew that they had a hit right then and there. By the time the auto show had concluded, they had made the decision to begin production in earnest. That production later began in 2005 at their plant in Wilmington, Delaware. It's important to note that although production started in 2005, the first model year for the Pontiac Solstice was 2006.

It Wasn't All Smooth Sailing

Pontiac wanted their car to be a hit, but they weren't prepared for it to be as successful as it actually was. They had only planned on building approximately 6,000 units the first year that the car was in production and they received 6,000 orders while the car was still in pre-production. Almost immediately thereafter, they received thousands more orders. This would have put them behind schedule, even if everything had been going exactly as planned. Unfortunately, they were experiencing a number of delays at their plant in Wilmington. This was largely attributed to system issues within the plant itself, technical problems that needed to be fixed in order to move the production line along. The problem was, it all put Pontiac behind even more than they already were. To their credit, they doubled down and did the best they could with the challenges that were thrown at them. They quickly notified customers that they were having delays, ensuring them that those delays would be remedied in the very near future. They then began around the clock assembly lines and eventually produced 10,000 cars in the same amount of time that they had originally planned to produce 6,000.

A Struggling Car Maker

Despite the overwhelming popularity of the Pontiac Solstice, Pontiac as a whole was struggling to make a profit. In fact, they hadn't been immensely profitable in a number of years. GM, the parent company of Pontiac, had been carrying them financially for some time. That was the truth behind the release of the Pontiac Solstice in the first place. The idea was to create something that would generate a great deal of interest within the general public, all with the hopes of allowing Pontiac to become profitable once again. They might have pulled it off, but only two years after the first production model hit the streets, the country went into a deep recession. 2008 saw a number of financial challenges in the United States, ranging from people being unable to pay the rent and buy groceries, to major car companies and other corporations that were becoming insolvent.

The Success That Came Too Late

There is no doubt that the Pontiac Solstice was successful. Had the 2008 recession not hit, it may very well have done exactly what Pontiac executives had hoped and pulled the company out of the red. However, most people could no longer afford things like sports cars once the recession hit. Sales slowed to a crawl and Pontiac’s financial problems only grew worse. To make the situation even more dire, GM's financial problems were growing, too. Like most of the other American car companies, they were facing bankruptcy. They had no choice but to liquidate assets and streamline the company if they were to survive.

Making Hard Choices

Despite the overwhelming success of the Pontiac Solstice, GM made the decision to discontinue all Pontiac models and dissolve Pontiac as a whole. With that decision, the Pontiac Solstice was about to become nothing more than a memory. Models were produced through the 2010 model year, but sales never got back to the level they were when the car was first introduced. People simply didn't have the money to spend on a car like this. Although things looked like they might start to pick up in the near future, as sales of the car were slowly increasing, the wheels were already in motion to discontinue all Pontiac models. As popular as the Solstice had been, it went by the wayside with all of the other Pontiacs. Production on the car continued until the Wilmington plant that had always manufactured it closed. The last Pontiac Solstice rolled off the assembly line in July of 2009.

A Popular Choice, Even Today

The Pontiac Solstice is still a popular automobile, even all these years later. This is something that can easily attest to its popularity. It's been 12 years since the Pontiac Solstice was produced. There aren't really that many cars that are still so sought after when they are already more than 10 years old. That said, people still clamor to get their hands on a Pontiac Solstice. In fact, their value has virtually doubled, largely because there aren't that many of them to be had. As such, most people that can afford to are willing to pay whatever the asking price is in order to get their hands on one of their very own. There may never be another car quite like the Pontiac Solstice. It had solid performance and good looks to boot. It's easy to understand why it was so popular then and why people continue to want this car so many years after it was discontinued.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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