GM will axe five of its 15 midsize car models in the United States by 2006 as it tries to trim manufacturing and development costs and spend marketing dollars on fewer brands, Bloomberg News reported.

Citing Gene Stefanyshyn, the GM executive in charge of midsize vehicles, Bloomberg said GM plans to stay ahead of growing competition from overseas-based car makers by offering fewer yet more distinct models from Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Saturn.

GM currently leads the midsize car category – dominated by family sedans that range in price from $14,500 to $24,999 and 180 to 199 inches long – with more than 32% of sales, Bloomberg said.

Stefanyshyn told Bloomberg that the Buick Century, for example, would be eliminated to provide more marketing dollars for the Buick Regal.

Bloomberg said GM built about 1.2 million midsize cars last year at six plants, representing sales of about $US18.7 billion or 18% of the company’s North American revenue.

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The giant car maker is also dropping three Oldsmobile midsize models as its phases out the 104-year-old brand – the Alero coupe and sedan and the Intrigue sedan, Bloomberg said.

GM did not identify the fifth model to be eliminated, Bloomberg News said.

Bloomberg noted that the GM announcement came the same week that Chrysler said it would develop more car-based vehicles like the Pacifica, a minivan/sport-utility ‘crossover’ after concentrating more heavily than its crosstown rivals on truck models like its Jeep brand.

General Motors had 23 midsize car models in 1997 with Chevrolet alone fielding five midsize car brands – Malibu, Prizm, Lumina, Impala and Monte Carlo – two years ago, Bloomberg News said.