• Dec 9, 2008
When it comes to Saturn, General Motors is a little stuck. The plucky brand that promised something different and then turned into much the same hasn't seen critical acclaim or profitability for more than ten years. GM has halted funding for new Saturn products, and its plan to Congress indicated that a sharp focus on Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC. That would appear to leave Saturn something pretty close to dead.
But GM can't simply close the Saturn shop. There are 425 Saturn dealerships, and one dealer-broker figured that GM would have to shell out $3-$4 million to each dealer if Saturn gets put down. That puts GM past the billion dollar mark even before any other cost is taken into account. And Saturn can't simply be sold either, except as a brand name and blueprints – it has no engineering nor manufacturing abilities outside of GM.

A meeting is planned for later this week to "conceive a new business model" to make Saturn profitable, because the uncertainty isn't helping anyone. Dealers don't like the sound of GM putting all of its eggs in a basket that doesn't include Saturn, customers don't like the sound of "No new product," and GM can't stay in a holding pattern and shell out money for a brand going nowhere. We hope they sort something out that restores its initial promise – and some profits – because we still have a soft spot for the otherwordly brand.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]


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  • 72 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Way to screw it up again GM...


      • 6 Years Ago
      Most of Saturn's lineup today consists of rebadged Opel's, and I think GM would be wise to turn Saturn into the US arm of Opel. Instead of spending money redesigning domestic models that nobody wants, GM should use Saturn to sell already-engineered European cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Since all the current models are based on Opels, just build all the cars in Europe. I agree that Saturn should go back to its roots, two or three models based on one platform. The "Civic model" makes sense, a sedan, coupe and SUV all based on the same platform, all built in Europe. The current Saturn Astra is built in Belgium, so build a two door, a four door and introduce a small SUV based on that platform. Keep most of the Saturn dealers. The Aura, Vue, Outlook and Sky are either overlap with other GM models or are too large.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Saturn's rebadged Opels are already being built in Europe. That is the problem.

        GM is taking a $2,000 hit on each Opelized Saturn it sells largely due to the foreign exchange rate. So instead of making more money, they are actually digging themselves deeper in the hole.
      • 6 Years Ago
      ""GMC Caballero/Sprint were the El Camino clones. Giving the Holden Ute to anyone but Chevy as an El Camino is a travesty. If GM sold the Ute as an El Camino they'd see a massive surge of sales and sell every one they could import. As a G8 ST it will limp on life support. Its the right vehicle for the wrong brand/market. What use do Pontiac's customers have with a trucklet?""

      +1

      If GM brought back the El Camino with a V6 6spd manual I'd be at a dealership to buy one immediately.


      • 6 Years Ago
      Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Saturn must die! It serves no purpose. Kill it.

      This is another reason why GM should just file for bankruptcy. All these archaic agreements would go away.
        • 6 Years Ago
        +1 kill Saturn, but make the dealership experince there expand to Chevy dealers, or have them sell Chevy and close a bunch more Chevy dealers that are not delivering

        everytime i've been to a Chevy dealer the sales people in there are some of hte worst in the industry

        when I've been to a Saturn dealer, i've been treted with cookies and water/juice adn immediately a sales perosn was called to get with me - 100% better than any chevy dealer
      • 6 Years Ago
      S-series, anyone? Granted it was hideously ugly, but it was a reliable, different-looking, small car that was great on gas. The ION and Astra have alienated buyers.........the Astra's ok, but would better be suited at Pontiac.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Globally, Buick is GM's hottest product. China loves it, because of its rich American history. It needs to be sold here in the U-S, plus there are so many Buick dealers. Dropping Buick to three U-S models was dumb.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Convert Saturn dealerships Opel dealerships. Most Saturn cars are Opel based anyways but most people stay away because of the Saturn brand.
        • 6 Years Ago
        So your solution to this problem is to ask dealers who are suffering to spend more money on converting their buildings over to Opel design in the hopes of fooling the public into buying the exact same cars.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Opel has zero name recognition in the United States to people under 50 unless they're Euro car enthusiasts. It might work but building a "new" brand isn't easy and this might not be the time to spend that kind of money.
        • 6 Years Ago
        They already sold Opels in the U.S. market for almost 20 years. They were sold thru Buick dealers from the 60's through the mid 70's.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes Tagg, in the 60's and 70's. That's why people under 50 know of Opel, but almost nobody under 50 does. The brand would have to be built, and that takes money.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Sorry. People OVER 50 know of Opel but almost nobody UNDER 50 does.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It would be a shame for GM to ditch Saturn now. For the first time in ten years they have decent cars. GM made the smart decision to bring over the astra rather than designing another POS sunfire. I was a huge fan of the first gen focus then ford went along and made that car terrible. Honestly more American companies need to be producing cars like the astra if they want any chance to stay afloat. For example the mazda 3 is responsible to 30% of all of mazda car sales. If the big three continue down their path of hummers, SUVs, and pony cars they will be dead by next month. Trying to keep afloat by producing cars that don't compete with the rest of the world can only keep a sinking ship alive for so long. Suck it up an start to produce better cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Keep Saturn, it seems fresh...If anything Kill Buick!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      DON'T KILL SATURN. JUST PULL A DATSUN. CHANGE THE NAME TO "OPEL". I'M SURE THEY WOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM SELLING ANY OF THOSE STATESIDE.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Actually Saturn is a prime candidate for a sale to Chinese automakers who need GM's brand and dealer network to enter US market but not its product or plant.

      The fact that only the brand and dealer network would be in the sales package makes it much more attractive than say Saab, which comes with overpaid Swedish workers and plant.
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