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Asüna Was a Weird GM Brand in Canada

Here’s something you might not know: In the early 1990s, General Motors created a brand sold only in Canada called Asüna. That umlauted u only added to the intrigue, in my opinion.

The Canadian market has always been more receptive than the U.S. market to small cars, largely because most of Canada’s population lives in one of the country’s big cities. As a result, Canada always gets one or two small cars that America doesn’t — the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, for instance, before it was brought to the U.S. as an electric car, or the Acura EL, an entry-level Acura never sold in the U.S.

So General Motors tried its hand in the early 1990s at creating a small Canadian car brand that would be something of an upscale version of Geo — a creation demanded by PontiacBuickGMC dealerships upset at the success of SaturnSaabIsuzu dealers. The result was Asüna, the name intending to sound European and luxurious, even though the brand was neither.

Asüna debuted in 1992, and its initial model was the Sunrunner, a rebadged Geo Tracker. The SE (a rebadged Pontiac LeMans, which was itself a rebadged Daewoo) and the Sunfire (which, amazingly, was not a rebadged Pontiac Sunfire but a rebadged Geo Storm, which was a rebadged Isuzu Impulse) came next year.

GM shut down Asüna after just two model years, given that its entire lineup was rebadged vehicles already sold elsewhere in the General Motors family. But for a short time, Asüna existed in Canada as an unusual decision made by General Motors to briefly create a new brand.

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  1. I don’t think it’s fair to call the Sunfire a rebadged Storm, since it used the front and rear fascias of the Impulse.  It’s really a rebadged Impulse, while the Storm is another rebadged Impulse with unique fascias.

  2. You should do an article on Beumont. That is a far more interesting GM brand that most USA people never heard of. Or how about Ford’s Meteor and Monarch brands?

    • My dad has a 1969 Acadian (Chevy Nova), and my father-in-law has a 1969 Beaumont (Chevy Chevelle). My dad had originally planned on swapping the special Acadian trim for Nova parts, but I talked him into keeping it stock looking (though he’s building a 400 to put in it).

  3. Crazy to think how dealers 20-30 years ago were so much different than now in many ways. Chrysler alone had 3 (!!!) separate dealer networks – Chrysler/Plymouth, Dodge and Jeep/Eagle. GM had more but many shared space still – Pontiac/Cadillac sometimes were combined and GMC/Oldsmobile but Chevrolet typically was alone and many Buick dealers too, although Saab later on mixed in with Buicks. Ford was always alone from Lincoln/Mercury. 

    I think today there’s about the same amount of dealers, but when Chrysler shrunk, many were replaced by Hyundai/Kia/VW/Honda/Mazda franchises. 

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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