June 1, 2023


Automotive and technology

General Motors’ Passport and Asüna, Total Brand Confusion (Part II)


We begun our protection of GM’s Eighties and Nineties branding adventures last 7 days, with the limited-lived experiment that was Passport. The dealership network was an amalgamation of GM-owned or motivated manufacturers from Japan, Sweden, and in the scenario of the Passport Optima, South Korea. Passport lasted from 1987 by way of 1991 prior to GM modified instructions. In addition to axing an unsuccessful income channel, Geo and Saturn cars had arrived for the duration of Passport’s tenure and manufactured things a lot more complex. Let us master some additional about GM’s Canadian dealership networks.

Aside from the aforementioned Passport dealers that turned Saturn-Isuzu-Saab outlets during 1991, there were two principal GM distribution networks that spanned the considerably reaches of the nation from Downtown Canada to other locations that in all probability integrated Regina and Vancouver. Grouped alongside one another have been Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac as just one distribution, and Pontiac, Buick, and GMC as the other. These two principal networks were being supported by the new Saturn-Isuzu-Saab set up that sought to capture additional “import” customer business (a notion with which GM was obsessed from 1984 through approximately 2003).

Although Pontiac sellers had been gifted the orphan formerly acknowledged as the Passport LeMans in 1992, Chevrolet sellers marketed the several Suzuki solutions (like the Spectrum) GM badged with a bowtie in the middle of the Eighties. That pattern continued in 1989 when by default the autos bought as Geos in the United States ended up promoted as Chevrolet in Canada.

Geo was not released to Canada right up until 1992, but the Geo-cum-Chevrolets had been very common when they arrived at the stop of the decade. That did not make the people at Pontiac-Buick-GMC sellers much too joyful considering the fact that the only Geo available to them was the Tracker, badged as a GMC. Dealers petitioned GM to cut them in on the motion, and that direct to the creation of a new model: Asüna.

GM filed for its declaration of use in Canada on May well 20th, 1990, even prior to the official termination of its Passport. The brand itself was officially founded on April 12th, 1992. Asüna delivered substantially guarantee to the gross sales personnel at Pontiac-Buick-GMC sellers, who desperately wanted some of the small merchandise Geo offered.

Let us remind ourselves that the GM lineup consisted of four total autos in 1993: Metro, Prizm (second-gen), Storm, and Tracker. The Prizm was the only car in its next generation guise, as the other people were nonetheless in original Eighties format. It was from this foundation that Asüna built its small lineup.

The most promising supplying in the new brand’s lineup was the Asüna model of the Tracker, the Sunrunner. The Tracker was accessible at Chevrolet dealerships throughout Canada in 1989 in its conventional guises (hardtop, convertible, and five-door). Tracker remained under its Chevrolet banner right up until 1992 when it was renamed Geo Tracker but curiously stored its gold bowtie logos. In fact, the Geo Tracker in Canada generally wore a Chevrolet badge, by way of the finish of its very first-generation creation in 1998.

GMC experienced their own version of the Tracker, badged as this sort of from 1989. There were being confined differences other than badging, but CL in Chevrolet converse turned the SLE trim at GMC dealers. 1991 was the closing 12 months for the GMC Tracker, as, contrary to the Chevrolet model that was renamed Geo, its transformation into the Asüna Sunrunner bundled new badging.

The Sunrunner was the first Asüna out there when it arrived for 1992. Beneath it was the Suzuki Vitara, usually referred to as the Escudo in other marketplaces. Geo’s most recognizable design, the Tracker’s initially era ran from 1989 to 1998, at which level it switched to the next technology that was marketed from 1999 by means of 2004. The Tracker outlived GM’s interest in unique Geo branding and existed for the next fifty percent of its life as a Chevrolet.

Serving as the only Asüna car that nobody truly preferred was GM Canada’s favorite orphan, the LeMans. Following a single calendar year as a Pontiac in 1992, 1993 observed the LeMans facelifted and turned into the Asüna SE and GT. The only big difference in the new variation was a new entrance clip and really a little bit revised taillamps. It arrived a yr right after the Sunrunner was on vendor tons. The facelifted LeMans was in no way bought in the United States, and its tenure at Asüna proved very brief: 1993 was its only calendar year. We talked about the record of the LeMans a lot in our very last entry.

The 3rd and final Asüna was the sportiest of the team, the Sunfire. Usually associated currently with Pontiac, the Sunfire title was very first utilized to the Geo Storm to make it an Asüna. The Storm experienced been limited from Canada, as the 2nd-era model was not imported as an Isuzu or a Geo in 1992. Asüna consumers acquired the Sunfire only as a hatchback – the rarely-selected wagon model was off-limitations.

The Sunfire and Storm have been rebadges on the next generation of the Isuzu Impulse, or Piazza if you choose. While it was a great deal additional modern than its predecessor, the 2nd technology lost a whole lot of its heart and soul. It was not intended by Giugiaro, it was not rear-travel, and it did not previous very extensive. Due to sluggish revenue globally, Isuzu canceled the Impulse immediately after just 4 model a long time. The Storm was not replaced in the Geo lineup, and it was the 1 and only time the model experienced a sporting activities compact on offer you.

Even though Geo product sales ongoing in the US and Canada, Asüna was not so fortunate. The familiarity of the Canadian shopper with imported autos at Chevrolet dealers was also good for the superior folks at the Pontiac dealer throughout the street to overcome. It didn’t enable that the inexpensive and greater volume Metro and Prizm had been not allowed to duplicate more than to Asüna.

The only automobile to make it out of Asüna alive was the Sunrunner, which drove over to Pontiac showrooms in 1994. That 12 months, GM permitted Pontiac dealers entry to a different Geo, the Metro. For Pontiac usage, Metro was rebranded and marketed as the cheesy Firefly. The Pontiac Sunfire returned in 1995 as a redesigned J-entire body.

Compared with the Passport trademark that GM retained and renewed for some time, Asüna been given a great deal considerably less notice. Immediately after its registration, it was under no circumstances renewed. The Canadian federal government notified GM in February 2008 that the trademark was about to expire, but The Normal did not answer. Asüna was expunged from lively status on September 18, 2008. Hence concludes the Passport and Asüna tale. 7 complete years of brand experimentation that pretty much no person remembers helps make for perfect Abandoned Background.

[Images: GM]

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