...And KBB consumer reviews of the Aztek are 8.2/10 over those product years, which just go to show that opinions are all over the map. It's a slow morning, so...
Just the numbers: 119,700 Azteks sold
estimated they needed to sell 30,000 per year to break even (150,000)
sold 23,940 per year on average = about 6060 cars short of hitting that mark (30,300 total)
avg mfr invoice minus holdback for those 5 years = about $17.5k
530m shortfall over 5 production years = 106m/year loss
GMA (just the cars, not the rest of GM) had a 2001-2004 net income/profit of about $1 billion/year over net revenue of $150 billion/year before badder things happened in the larger economy. ...so the Pontiac Aztek accounted for a 0.07% dent in revenue, and 10% reduction in total profit. Ow.
BUT, consider that the same assembly line made the Buick Rendezvous (the blander version of the Aztek) which substantially exceeded targets of 30k/year at about 57.9k/year. The two products off the same assembly line, same tooling, same costs totalled up, were a net positive (about 82k/year over a combined break-even point of 60k/year) -- meaning GM had a net profit from that production and assembly line, exceeding break-even production by 35%+. They didn't actually lose money.
One might argue that's a way of shuffling losses, but if you dig into GM's reports and strategy, they say (GM AR 2003, p 6):
>> GM brought brand differentiation to the world back in the
>> 1920s, when Alfred Sloan created the price ladder of GM
>> marques that offered “a car for every purse and purpose.”
>> Those lessons are now being applied in North America to
>> our volume leader, Chevrolet, to our performance-oriented
>> brand, Pontiac, and to Buick, which is restoring its reputation
>> for refined, dignified elegance.
GM's Pontiac brand was *supposed* to be the edgy just-break-even part of the business (e.g. the subsequent GTO), the product and assembly lines were specifically structured that way, and GM's balance sheet was combined in a way to handle that. The whole notion of the Aztek/Rendezvous::loss/proft rests on the dumb assumption they were going to sell the edgy-version vs mass-market version of the same car at a 50/50 ratio. Want to see what killed Pontiac? Look at page 19 of that 2003 Annual Report, which shows in page-filling bold type the demise of Pontiac and Saturn were just speed bumps in GM's idle mismanagement:
>> Here’s what’s new
>> about GM’s strategy this year:
>> Our 2003 plan is the same as 2002.
>> We’re getting better, year by year.
Wow. Bankruptcy was about a year away.
Net net is that Edmonds can print hyperbole about a car they hate, and weirdos like me can spend a Sunday morning rattling on about what we like, but the long and short of it is that the Aztek was wasn't really significant in GM's 9-million-vehicles-per-year business, any more than the Newton MessagePad killed Apple. IMHO what is significant is the design influence, the things we talk about years later, and the encouragement to go do ballsy things despite the risk of failure.
Coffee, I need coffee.