GM Allowing Pontiac Dealers To Close Early

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors Co. said Tuesday that it would allow Pontiac dealers slated to close later this year to shut down early, if their inventories are depleted.

Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of U.S. sales, said the Cash for Clunkers program helped many of those dealers sell vehicles quicker than expected, leading the company to relax the requirement that dealers remain in business until Jan. 1.

"We're actually letting guys that have sold out or are close to being sold out, letting them close up their operations now or sooner if they desire," said LaNeve during a conference call to discuss August sales. "We do have dealers taking advantage of that because we're well ahead of the game in terms of where we thought we would be."

GM had expected to keep selling Pontiacs until the third quarter of next year, as the company phases out the brand entirely. But the vehicles, which the company stopped producing last month, are likely to be gone before the end of the year.

GM sold 29,921 Pontiacs last month, a 23.3 percent increase over August 2008. Pontiac sales made up 2.4 percent of GM's total sales in August, compared with 1.9 percent a year ago.

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