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Why Did Pontiac Discontinue the Sunfire Model?

The Pontiac Sunfire was a compact car that came out in 1995 and continued to be manufactured until 2005. It was a replacement for the Pontiac Sunbird, which had a much longer run from 1975 to 1994. Similarly, the Pontiac Sunfire was replaced by the Pontiac G5 that might be better-known to some interested individuals as the Chevrolet Cobalt. On the whole, the Pontiac Sunfire seems to have performed fine, meaning that some people might be curious why it was discontinued.

Why Was the Pontiac Sunfire Discontinued?

There is no clear indication for why the Pontiac Sunfire was discontinued. However, it isn't difficult to come up with various guesses. For example, it is possible that the Pontiac Sunfire didn't sell enough, meaning that the higher-ups decided to go with a new line that can bring in new revenues. However, it seems likelier that it was a matter of technological advancement. Simply put, if car makers want to incorporate new technologies, they need to make changes to their cars. Minor changes can be made with minor issues. However, more dramatic changes mean more dramatic issues, so much so that it might make more sense to switch over to a new model rather than stick to an old model.

On a related note, it is worth mentioning that while the Pontiac Sunfire used the General Motors J platform, its successor the Pontiac G5 used the General Motors Delta platform. For those who are unfamiliar, a car platform can be described as a collection of designs, production efforts, and other characteristics that are shared between different models of cars and even different kinds of cars. They see widespread use in the car industry because they are convenient, which is based on an assessment of both their positive impact and their negative impact.

Speaking of which, there can be no doubt about the fact that car platforms have some serious downsides. For example, they can cause different models to look similar to one another, thus causing these different cars to draw from the same consumer base. This is a serious problem because this means that one model can eat sales from another model using the same car platform. Something that can be particularly unpleasant when both models are being sold by the same car maker. Similarly, the very use of a car platform can cause a particular model to seem less unique and thus less valuable. This isn't a huge problem for a car aimed at a wider swathe of the general population.

Unfortunately, it can be devastating for the sales of a luxury vehicle because being exclusive is a big part of the point of luxury products. On top of this, there is the matter of actually making use of car platforms. Simply put, the process is by no means guaranteed to be simple and straightforward, meaning that it is possible for car makers to make mistakes that will ruin the whole point of using car platforms in the first place by making their design incompatible with existing processes in various ways. Furthermore, it should be noted that car platforms are also something of an "every egg in one basket" issue. If one model has an issue, that will hurt the sales of that one model. However, if a car platform has an issue, that will hurt the sales of every single model based upon it. Something that makes proper execution of the relevant steps that much more important.

In exchange, car platforms offer even bigger upsides. For starters, it enables car makers to save on costs. In part, this is because it costs them less to come up with a new model, not least because some of the process has already been handled. However, it should also be mentioned that the shared components enable them to get by with a smaller number of inventoried parts, which can make for surprisingly big savings in the grand scheme of things. Combined, this reduction in costs is one of the factors that contribute to the increased flexibility offered by the use of car platforms. Simply put, car makers can use car platforms to release more models aimed at more markets. Sometimes, these different markets are in the sense of different consumer bases, which is possible because a single car platform can be used to create different kinds of cars rather than just different models of cars. Other times, these different markets are in the sense of different geographical regions, which is important because different countries can have different rules as well as different preferences.

Why Do Car Companies Release New Cars on Such a Regular Basis Anyways?

In any case, it is normal for car makers to release new cars on a regular basis. Theoretically, they could just sell the same car again and again for longer periods of time than they do in the present. However, there are very good reasons why car makers release new cars at the rate that they do. As mentioned earlier, new technological advancements are being made on a constant basis. Due to this, car makers need to continue making improvements to their products. Some of them might be tempted to stand still. However, the moment that they do so, they would be overtaken by their competitors, who could gain a competitive advantage in the process.

This is particularly true because customers have become accustomed to this pace of releases. For minor changes, it is perfectly possible to remain with the same line. This can be seen in how most changes from year-to-year are relatively minor. However, car makers also need to make more major changes from time to time, which tend to be quite notable in the resulting products. Unfortunately, there comes a point when a particular line becomes incapable of keeping up with one kind of change or another, meaning that car makers need to put out something new that can be sold for years and years to come.

This pace has become a matter of routine for consumers. For proof, look no further than how cars are notorious for depreciating at a rapid rate. Said occurrence isn't because cars are breaking down that fast. If anything, modern cars are becoming more durable. Instead, said occurrence happens in great part because people expect to change their cars on a regular basis, which has a very real effect on the demand for the recent models and the not so recent models. As such, any car maker that tries to break out of this would run right into the iron wall of consumer expectations, which is not a position that any business would want to be.

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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