US: Oldsmobile died a decade ago image

Tomorrow marks an unfortunate anniversary – 10 years ago the last Oldsmobile was rolling off General Motors Lansing Car Assembly plant production line.

On April 29, 2004, the last Oldsmobile Alero sedan, driven off by the factory’s two most senior employees, was being produced, marking the start of General Motors latest brand clean-up. As from the 2000s onward GM was ready to close the Oldsmobile brand, Pontiac and Saturn followed, while Saab and Hummer would be sold off.

“It took a lot for people here to get the mindset to get over the loss of Oldsmobile,” Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said. “It was the end of an era. The end of Oldsmobile wasn’t the end of GM.”

The send off was at the time heavily criticized locally by fans of the Oldsmobile division, but for GM plants was just the beginning of a big transformation – which accelerated as the company exited bankruptcy in 2009.

If we take the Lansing area manufacturing facilities as an example, which are GM’s newest in North America, we can see that the Lansing Grand River and Delta Township assembly plants, plus a stamping plant and a warehouse operation still have thousands of employees.

The plants are modern and adaptable, being able to build cars, SUVs and also can make a variety of vehicle and body styles – each of the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC nameplates GM still has in the US build at least one model in the region.

The last Oldsmobile built, a dark cherry Alero, was on display at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing for many years and it now has as its permanent home the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights.