We began our protection of GM’s Eighties and Nineties branding adventures final week, with the short-lived experiment that was Passport. The dealership community was an amalgamation of GM-owned or influenced manufacturers from Japan, Sweden, and within the case of the Passport Optima, South Korea. Passport lasted from 1987 by means of 1991 earlier than GM modified instructions. Along with axing an unsuccessful gross sales channel, Geo and Saturn vehicles had arrived throughout Passport’s tenure and made issues extra difficult. Let’s be taught some extra about GM’s Canadian dealership networks.
Other than the aforementioned Passport sellers that turned Saturn-Isuzu-Saab shops throughout 1991, there have been two important GM distribution networks that spanned the far reaches of the nation from Downtown Canada to different locations that most likely included Regina and Vancouver. Grouped collectively have been Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac as one distribution, and Pontiac, Buick, and GMC as the opposite. These two important networks have been supported by the brand new Saturn-Isuzu-Saab setup that sought to seize extra “import” purchaser enterprise (an idea with which GM was obsessed from 1984 by means of roughly 2003).
Whereas Pontiac sellers have been gifted the orphan previously often called the Passport LeMans in 1992, Chevrolet sellers bought the varied Suzuki merchandise (just like the Spectrum) GM badged with a bowtie in the midst of the Eighties. That development continued in 1989 when by default the vehicles bought as Geos in the US have been marketed as Chevrolet in Canada.
Geo was not launched to Canada till 1992, however the Geo-cum-Chevrolets have been fairly widespread once they arrived on the finish of the last decade. That didn’t make the parents at Pontiac-Buick-GMC sellers too glad because the solely Geo obtainable to them was the Tracker, badged as a GMC. Sellers petitioned GM to chop them in on the motion, and that result in the creation of a brand new model: Asüna.
GM filed for its declaration of use in Canada on Could twentieth, 1990, even earlier than the official termination of its Passport. The model itself was formally based on April twelfth, 1992. Asüna offered a lot promise to the gross sales employees at Pontiac-Buick-GMC sellers, who desperately wished a few of the small product Geo provided.
Allow us to remind ourselves that the GM lineup consisted of 4 complete automobiles in 1993: Metro, Prizm (second-gen), Storm, and Tracker. The Prizm was the one car in its second technology guise, because the others have been nonetheless in authentic Eighties format. It was from this foundation that Asüna constructed its small lineup.
Probably the most promising providing within the new model’s lineup was the Asüna model of the Tracker, the Sunrunner. The Tracker was obtainable at Chevrolet dealerships throughout Canada in 1989 in its customary guises (hardtop, convertible, and five-door). Tracker remained below its Chevrolet banner till 1992 when it was renamed Geo Tracker however curiously saved its gold bowtie logos. Actually, the Geo Tracker in Canada at all times wore a Chevrolet badge, by means of the tip of its first-generation manufacturing in 1998.
GMC had their very own model of the Tracker, badged as such from 1989. There have been restricted variations aside from badging, however CL in Chevrolet communicate turned the SLE trim at GMC sellers. 1991 was the ultimate yr for the GMC Tracker, as, in contrast to the Chevrolet model that was renamed Geo, its transformation into the Asüna Sunrunner included new badging.
The Sunrunner was the primary Asüna obtainable when it arrived for 1992. Beneath it was the Suzuki Vitara, usually known as the Escudo in different markets. Geo’s most recognizable mannequin, the Tracker’s first technology ran from 1989 to 1998, at which level it switched to the second technology that was bought from 1999 by means of 2004. The Tracker outlived GM’s curiosity in particular Geo branding and existed for the second half of its life as a Chevrolet.
Serving as the one Asüna car that no one truly wished was GM Canada’s favourite orphan, the LeMans. After a single yr as a Pontiac in 1992, 1993 noticed the LeMans facelifted and changed into the Asüna SE and GT. The one distinction within the new model was a brand new entrance clip and really barely revised taillamps. It arrived a yr after the Sunrunner was on seller tons. The facelifted LeMans was by no means bought in the US, and its tenure at Asüna proved very brief: 1993 was its solely yr. We mentioned the historical past of the LeMans a lot in our final entry.
The third and ultimate Asüna was the sportiest of the group, the Sunfire. Sometimes related in the present day with Pontiac, the Sunfire identify was first utilized to the Geo Storm to make it an Asüna. The Storm had been restricted from Canada, because the second-generation mannequin was not imported as an Isuzu or a Geo in 1992. Asüna clients acquired the Sunfire solely as a hatchback – the seldom-selected wagon model was off-limits.
The Sunfire and Storm have been rebadges on the second technology of the Isuzu Impulse, or Piazza for those who choose. Although it was way more trendy than its predecessor, the second technology misplaced a variety of its coronary heart and soul. It was not designed by Giugiaro, it wasn’t rear-drive, and it didn’t final very lengthy. Resulting from gradual gross sales globally, Isuzu canceled the Impulse after simply 4 mannequin years. The Storm was not changed within the Geo lineup, and it was the one and solely time the model had a sports activities compact on provide.
Although Geo gross sales continued within the US and Canada, Asüna was not so lucky. The familiarity of the Canadian client with imported vehicles at Chevrolet sellers was too nice for the nice of us on the Pontiac seller throughout the road to beat. It didn’t assist that the inexpensive and better quantity Metro and Prizm weren’t allowed to repeat over to Asüna.
The one automotive to make it out of Asüna alive was the Sunrunner, which drove over to Pontiac showrooms in 1994. That yr, GM allowed Pontiac sellers entry to a different Geo, the Metro. For Pontiac utilization, Metro was rebranded and bought because the tacky Firefly. The Pontiac Sunfire returned in 1995 as a redesigned J-body.
In contrast to the Passport trademark that GM retained and renewed for a while, Asüna acquired a lot much less consideration. After its registration, it was by no means renewed. The Canadian authorities notified GM in February 2008 that the trademark was about to run out, however The Normal didn’t reply. Asüna was expunged from lively standing on September 18, 2008. Thus concludes the Passport and Asüna story. Seven complete years of name experimentation that nearly no one remembers makes for excellent Deserted Historical past.
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