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GM Aligns Buick, Pontiac ,GMC Divisions

DETROIT February 26, 2003; Reuters reported that General Motors Corp. said today that it will align its Buick and Pontiac-GMC divisions, naming Chevrolet division head Kurt Ritter, who overhauled the Chevy truck lineup, to be general manager of the aligned operation.

Aligning the Buick and the Pontiac-GMC divisions and combining their future car and truck plans, sales networks, and marketing efforts will boost sales and profits for dealers, the world's largest automaker said.

The changes, effective on March 1, will not result in any job cuts, GM said.

The move stems partly from GM's decision two years ago to gradually phase out its Oldsmobile division.

Some Oldsmobile vehicles are being replaced with Buick models. For instance, the new Buick Rainier sport utility vehicle and a new Buick minivan will replace the Oldsmobile Bravada SUV and the Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan.

Ritter headed Chevrolet when the mass-market division remade its truck lineup, helping fuel GM sales and profits over the last few years. GM said Ritter will use that experience to grow Buick's truck sales.

"It looks like they're trying to duplicate the success of Chevrolet," said one prominent car dealer, who asked not to be named.

Of the 2,766 U.S. dealerships that currently sell Buicks, 745 sell just Buicks, Pontiacs and GMCs, GM said. Another 229 sell only Buicks.

GM's U.S. sales of Buicks, Pontiacs and GMCs rose about 1 percent to 1.51 million vehicles last year, versus a nearly 1 percent drop in GM's total U.S. vehicle sales to 4.9 million.

GM said that Lynn Myers will continue in her current role as divisional marketing general manager of Pontiac-GMC, reporting to Ritter. Myers will work with Ritter to develop marketing programs for the increasing numbers of aligned Buick- Pontiac-GMC dealers, the automaker said.

Brent Dewar, general manager of the northeast region, will replace Ritter as divisional marketing general manager at Chevrolet, reporting to John Middlebrook, vice president of vehicle brand marketing and corporate advertising.

Roger Adams, divisional marketing general manager of Buick, was named general manager of GM Customer Network, responsible for such customer relationship activities as Internet vehicle selling initiatives, direct marketing and various dealer programs.