Pontiac Still Sells New Cars in Japan, Beating Buick Sales in 2022
While it may seem like pure clickbait, GM is apparently selling new Pontiacs in Japan. That’s not to say they’re 2023 models. Though we can only speculate, they must be leftover inventory from Pontiac’s last year of production, which was 2010. But don’t take our word for it. In a rundown of GM cars sold back in March 2022, GM Inside News lists GM selling three new Pontiacs. And the previous month, it sold five.
The funny thing is that Pontiac beat Buick, which sold one car in that period. Pontiac’s sales ranking is in 47th place behind Chrysler and GMC, but ahead of 49th place Buick. As one would expect from that time frame, Toyota was No. 1, with Honda No. 2 and Suzuki No. 3. But back to Pontiac, it is inexplicable how new 2010 models are still waiting for buyers.
Did GM lose or maybe forget about these new Pontiacs?
Moving ahead to June and July of 2022, Pontiac is back on the charts again, according to GM Inside News. In July, it sold two, but in June, it sold 12. These are the most recent dates that list Pontiac in Japan’s rankings.
GM is an unwieldy company, and keeping tabs on every vehicle built and sold is more than monumental. In 2022, it sold almost six million cars globally. Still, it is hard to see how a cache of misplaced new Pontiacs could just be lying around somewhere in Japan.
Why are new American cars so hard to sell in Japan?
Ford gave sales in Japan a good push before pulling out altogether in 2016. It had 1.5% of the total market. That amounts to around 5,000 cars. For GM it has a good year if it hits 20,000 sales. Most American manufacturers have never cracked the Japanese market, with the exception of the Jeep brand.
Chevrolet even tried selling 1990s Chevrolet Cavaliers with Toyota badging. Yes, it was a joint venture of sorts to improve sales of what GM thought was the perfect car for Japan. It was the same as American Cavaliers but with Pontiac Sunfire wheels and Toyota badges. The rumor is that this was only done to placate U.S. politicians upset about tariffs on U.S. metal imports.
GM sold around 11,000 at one point, but those numbers didn’t last long. Within a couple of years, the “Toyota Cavalier” was gone. But then, in the 2000s, GM got Toyota to do it again.
Were Pontiacs popular in Japan?
This time, it was with the Pontiac Vibe, rebranded as the “Toyota Voltz.” What was really odd about this pairing is that Toyota jointly developed what became the Vibe and sold its own version, calling it Matrix, in the U.S. From 2002 to 2004, GM was lucky to sell 10,000 Voltz.
But what kind of Pontiac these more recent sales represent is not known. So we can only wonder how many more new Pontiacs there are in Japan. And if American manufacturers will ever be able to have success there.