• Dec 24, 2008
It sounds as if it's about time to get Bob Lutz some face-time with Mark LaNeve, 'cause the two men are trumpeting vastly different statements regarding the future of The General's interstellar brand. Recall that Lutz was recently quoted as saying, "It's really much better to have fewer brands, do it well and then market the hell out of them." This statement was directed squarely at the Saturn Aura, which is selling in much lower quantities than its platform-mate, the Chevy Malibu. Much of the blame can be attributed to the fact that these two vehicles are fighting for the exact same customers, yet only the Malibu gets the big ad bucks for promotion, which is probably as it should be considering that the Malibu is GM's best and most recent midsize sedan.
So, what to do with Saturn in these troubled times of belt-tightening? Ditch the brand entirely? Not so fast, counters LaNeve, who recently told dealers that, "We are completely behind Saturn." Hopefully, being "behind" the brand means cutting the number of models it sells and reducing that internal competition between rival GM brands while still keeping the Saturn name alive with new and exciting – not to mention well marketed – products. Sounds easy, right?

[Source: CNN]


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  • 29 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why isn't there a comparison between number of cars sold per dealership? One would presume the car with more dealers would be in a position to sell more based upon this one fact alone.

      Why not break down cars per dealership sold? This is done for Box Office results for movies all the time and gives a more insightful understanding of the interest of the public.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Saturn with Hummer is the first GM brand to be sold to the Chinese(SAIC).
        • 6 Years Ago
        I find it hard to believe that anyone would be interested in buying Hummer even with cheap gas prices right now.
        • 6 Years Ago
        SAIC should first bail out its own brands (Ssangyong) who cannot meet payroll due to excess debt.
      • 6 Years Ago
      GM broad span of mismoves have always been.
      The moneymess just makes them more prominent ,and
      If olLutz would just listen to AutoBlog reader/commentators.
      The mess would be AOK in no time.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why not kill the Saturn brand, and replace it with Opel? The Opel badge makes the same cars look more upscale.... sorta.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why not sell Saturn by Opel. No need to buy out dealers.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Try advertising the right products for once.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why?

        They got billions with no strings attached. Why do anything differently? Just threaten more job losses and billions more will rain down.

        Funny how a gov't bailout gives you new found chutzpah
        • 6 Years Ago
        Saturn has a good line-up, but it gets compromised when their products trickle down from Europe to US, also marketing job is piss-poor...i.e. "Kiss my Astra"

        Vauxhall, Holden, Pontiac need to be killed and products within their ranges that still make sense should be put under Opel umbrella. That way GM can grow Opel into a worldwide recognized brand to take on VW for example. Chevy should remain a value brand.

        GMC also needs to go.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Noidor

        Kill Holden and Vauxhall? Are you on crack? Holden is GM's Australian brand; they aren't sold anywhere else. Vauxhall is GM's British brand, again not anywhere else. Open is the mainland Europe brand.

        Those brands do not compete against other GM brands directly like Saturn does (Chevrolet is in Britain as well, but it's still not to the extent of the US with 8 or so brands overlapping). Maybe you should go back to the 4 piece puzzles that trouble you so much instead of trying to run an automaker.

        The product is done right at Saturn; they just need to market the damned things. Most people don't know about the Astra or Aura or Vue or Sky.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just turn it into a Scion-themed brand already, and offer some Euro-Spec econocars.

      Also, if you REALLY want to set the brand apart....offer a dirt-cheap-as-hell-but modifiable RWD platform. THAT will bring in the foot traffic.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed. A stripped down 2+2 based on the sky platform would be amazing. Offer the Sky as a slightly more high end vehicle as it is.
      • 6 Years Ago

      They should have simply invested more in Oldsmobile, instead of creating the Saturn brand in the 1990's.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Or more the matter:

        Cadillac = Upscale brand, with some entry-level luxury boats
        GMC = Commercial Chassis Division
        Chevy = General Car Brand with an equal mix of utility and sportyness from Econocars to Halo Cars.
        Saturn = Youth Oriented brand
        Pontiac = Performance Division

        Also, stop it with the rebaging and cross-company model sharing. Ditch the Saturn Sky and keep the Solstice in Pontiac, enough with the over 9000 truck/SUV variants shared by Caddilac, GMC, Saturn, and Chevy, and can we stop it with the Caddy Volt?
        • 6 Years Ago
        catgirlshyla,

        You just reiterated GM's failed strategy of the last 20 years. If they were to stop the "rebadging and cross-company model sharing" Pontiac would be reduced to one model the G8 and Saturn would be reduced to the Astra. Sharing models made duplicate brands relevant. No other company in the US has more than three brands other than GM. Shed Pontiac, Saturn and GMC in bankruptcy.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Proving yet again that Bankrupt Motors (a.k.a. GM) don't have a sweet clue what they are doing.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well most of them will be gone when they file chap 11 after the bailout money runs out in 3 months.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If you take a hard look at GM's brands...in the US, it basically has the ability to be 2 separate corporations. GM should come out this reorganization with at least half its current brands scheduled for regular production. Hastily, I admit that GM should mimic Toyota. Just follow me a bit....

      Cadillac (luxury), Chevy (mainstream), GMC (commercial, heavy duty)

      That's all they really need. Reduce the focus on so many brands. But that leaves...

      Buick (near luxury), Saturn (European mainstream), Hummer (niche, heavy duty), Pontiac (sporty, performance)

      If some auto investor bought the B-S-H-P brands and inked production partnerships with GM, they could have a separate full-service auto company (US market only). Buick can be revisioned as an entry-level luxury to luxury division, Saturn would continue to develop designs with Opel-Vauxhall and use GM's hybrid & plug-in tech, Pontiac can begin to truely compete with only the high performance variants from Japan & Europe, and Hummer can refine the H2 and H3 models while introducing rugged crossover models also.

      In my Utopian view of GM's future, they would only have 3 brands or maybe 4 to include a division to handle only the niche/low-production vehicles.

      VW, though huge, had the right vision and big enough balls to actively take on so many (overlapping) brands knowing that if they let them focus on their intended customer, they would be able to keep them separate as seen through the customer's eyes. VW (and Porsche) made lustful models from Bugatti, Lambo, Audi, and Bentley. VW-Porsche effectively did what GM, Ford, and Chrysler was trying to do in the 90's, but lacked the "know-how" to let the subsidiaries think for themselves and develop legendary, money-making machines.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "More Saturn dealerships are NOT needed. Less Chevy dealerships is the answer. You don't need six Chevy dealership within 30 minutes, that's market oversaturation. "

      In a good-sized town 6 Chevy dealerships is oversaturation. However, in smaller towns scattered across mid-west farmland, dealerships are needed to support the farmers and such in the area with trucks, etc. Also, these dealers typically carry more than one brand, so we're not talking about multiple standalone one brand dealers.

      Bottom line is getting rid of some of these dealers will not make it any easier to buy a Saturn and get it serviced! If GM wants to get more Saturn cars in the hands of more customers, they are going to have to take the cars to the customer, NOT make the customer jump thru hoops to get one of their products.

      People may be willing to drive hour(s) to get a Porsche or Lambo, but not a $25K family sedan when a just-as-good-as alternative is much closer.


      • 6 Years Ago
      I guess you have to get behind them first to make it easier to stab them in the back and put them out of their misery. I say this as a huge Saturn fan (we still own one). But seriously what's the point? With the US dollar turning into the new Peso you can't ship vehicles over from Europe and sell them for a profit. They refuse to spend any real money marketing the products and they sit in stand alone dealerships who's only other claim to fame tends to be a full line of Saabs and a history of selling Isuzu's and GM is out of time and money. What more information do you need? Put a fork in Saturn it's done.
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