General Motors Corp. cancels plans for a Pontiac G8 Sport Truck, saying the 2-passenger vehicle with a rear cargo bed does not fit with the auto maker’s future vision for the brand.

“The G8 ST just did not make a lot of sense, given where the future of the brand will be,” says Pontiac spokesman Jim Hopson.

The vehicle was unveiled at last year’s New York International Auto Show, powered by a 361-hp V-8 and sporting a 73.9-in. (188-cm) cargo bed with 42.7 cu.-ft. (1.2 cu-m) of cargo space. The Sport Truck was capable of carrying a payload of 1,000 lbs. (453 kg) and towing 3,500-lb. (1,587-kg) trailer.

Susan Docherty, vice president of Buick-Pontiac-GMC, says dealers were informed Tuesday the Chevrolet El Camino-like vehicle won’t be brought to the U.S.

“We want Pontiac to focus on youthful, sporty cars, and the G8 ST doesn’t fit with that strategy,” she says. “It was going to be a very limited entry in terms of low volume, and we decided not to proceed. It will have no effect on the rest of the G8 and G8 GXP lineup.”

The Pontiac G8 GXP model is on its way to dealer showrooms this month, making it the last of the G8 range’s three derivatives – standard models with a 3.6L V-6, a GT version with a 6.0L V-8 and the GXP line with a 6.2L V-8.

Doherty says the investment in bringing in the sport truck created by the GM Holden Ltd. subsidiary in Australia was nominal, but dropping the vehicle is in keeping with recovery plans given to Congress to win approval of federal loan guarantees.

GM planned to import the rebadged G8 ST beginning in late 2009 as a ’10 model. It’s known as the Holden Commodore Ute in Australia. The imported Pontiac G8 sports sedan also uses the Commodore platform.

However, including the upcoming Pontiac G3 compact car, the G8 ST would have stretched the division’s lineup to eight models, and GM told Congress it intends shrink Pontiac into a niche brand.

“We’re naturally disappointed about the cancellation, but we understand Pontiac’s decision,” GM Holden spokesman Jonathan Rose tells the Melbourne Age newspaper in Australia. “Pontiac has stated that as part of its restructuring it is focusing on cars as opposed to trucks.

“The Commodore export program remains strong,” he adds. “The decision doesn’t alter the foundation of the G8 sedan program. The Ute was just an extension of that program, and the GXP will still go ahead.”

Ward’s reported in December GM was reviewing its entire import program from GM Holden. Says Hopson: “Every vehicle we produce for the next few months is under review.”

– with Jim Mateja and Alan Harman

jamend@wardsauto.com