• Jan 5, 2009
Amidst all the recent bailout talk, one question being asked is what role GM's Opel division will serve in a new-and-hopefully-improved General Motors. More succinctly, will Vauxhall and Saturn soldier on unchanged or will they simply fade into automotive landscape? Automotive News seems to think the question of Opel and how it relates to Vauxhall and Saturn is so important that it's worth devoting three separate editorials to the issue, with varying levels of clarity.

Richard Truett maintains that shuttering Saturn would be a "monumental mistake that would alienate many of the most loyal buyers GM has," but thinks that "Saturn fans would be cool with a transition to Opel." We think that the cars might be well-received by Saturn buyers, but that the prices need to be more budget-minded and that the overall focus of the brand needs a thorough work-over. Some Autobloggers believe that shutting down Saturn altogether would be a mistake, while some are in favor of doing away with the brand as soon as possible. Regardless of where on that fence our staffers sit, we all expressed doubt that changing the name to Opel in the U.S. would serve any constructive purpose. Clearly, if it is going to keep Saturn, GM needs to show more support for the brand, as evidenced by the Malibu/Aura situation.

So what about killing off Vauxhall, which is essentially a UK-only rebadge of Opel? Well, here we see some dissent as well. Wim Oude Weernink says that the nameplate is superfluous and thinks GM should be reduced to just Cadillac, Opel and Chevrolet worldwide. That would leave GM with premium, near-premium, and mainstream lineups, placing it in line with other successful automakers like Toyota and Ford.

Colleague Mark Appleton, on the other hand, thinks it would be stupid to kill off Vauxhall. He argues that the General should keep the storied British marque, pointing out that there is no competition between Vauxhall and Opel and that the existing line-up would be very costly to replace with a brand that has never been successful in the UK. It's much like the Saturn/Opel equation except Saturn isn't as old, by a long shot.

This author thinks that Saturn could survive and possibly thrive as a rebadged Opel line, but recent history proves otherwise. The success of Vauxhall shows that the formula can work in other markets and now that smaller, more fuel-efficient Euro cars are gaining a foothold in the States, Saturn would be an ideal brand to market Opel's wares to American buyers who want to feel like they are ahead of the curve. And the same philosophy could be applied to Ford, with Mercury getting an infusion of the Blue Oval's Euro models.

It's expensive to shut down dealerships and to change brands, and the added cost of marketing a new or unfamiliar marque is considerably more expensive than manufacturing extra badges. So keeping Vauxhall and Saturn but streamlining the offerings and manufacturing some of the cars here could help bring jobs to America and stabilize prices when the dollar and euro (or pound) are going in opposite directions. Of course there are still some who think Saturn should just die already, but Alex is always cranky after a Knight Rider liveblog, and we don't know what to make of Paukert just yet. What say you?

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]


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  • 99 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      FROM DAY ONE I'VE WANTED OPEL!

      Its amazing that you can get to be the size of GM and be so completely stupid when it comes to all things business.

      Saturn should never have been. I would rather have opel over pontiac. Kill those two, relaunch with FRESH, REAL CARS - not vibes, torrents, and auras. Opel could be everything VW wishes it was if someone would just market the damn thing!
      Best part is, Opel is not American! Americans obvously hate all things American. They want European - that's why they elected that moron Obama. Even though Europe is realizing there crazy liberal policies are failures, us Americans still think they can work.

      So GM gets to own them, and the stupid public thinks there buying a European car. Perfect.

      And don'rt mention saab. Saab could have been great too, but GM NEVER cared about saab. They bought them to let them die.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I say get rid of all three and put the money into Saab as an entry level luxury brand to compete with companies like VW. Saab holds more cache amoung the euro only crowd here in the states and has a highly respected image and a loyal following in the rest of the world. Give them new products so they can really compete and move on.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I say put them all under Opel, Bring more turbos and the roadsters over. I would buy a Opel Astra Nurburing Edition in a heartbeat.
      • 6 Years Ago
      My thoughts...well Saturn has a red logo...that reminds me of communism, blood, hell, or something sinister. And then the fact that it doesnt even resemble an S. On the other hand opel has a sideways lightning...what does that mean? Vauxhall has the coolest insignia. But for USA i think we need it as an Eagle. It looks too much like a new age viking shield...
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ferrari loves red. You make zero sense.
        • 6 Years Ago
        the vauxhall logo is a griffon (griffin), and could be changed into a 'screaming chicken', methinks.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The saturn logo doesn't look like an S because its not an S. Its the PLANET SATURN. Sphere with rings around it.

        http://ael.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/saturn/saturn2.jpg
        • 6 Years Ago
        The lightning bolt is a testimonial to the Opel Blitz truck. The German word 'Blitz' means lightning, so duh.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ha, Surprised I got so much notice from a satirical post. @AZZO45b Jupiter is the red planet. Saturn is known for the ring around the thick end and many balls.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Ian
        LoL, you caught me. I'm a fool. Speaking of logos and planets, i dont care for those.

        I cant wait till Chrysler is dismantled and sold/merged. I want to see new management and new talent from that firm. Can you imagine the chinese coming in through Chrysler. If that happens, a second firm will jump in and buy off Hummer/Volvo just to stay competitive. Then who will be in better position to rise up? Volvo has the tech, but lacks the manufacturing/distribution channels. Chrysler is just a shell, but still worth something with their truck/suv design and dealer network. Or maybe another european firm will jump stateside. Perhaps Fiat or Porsche? So they can have larger volume sales? The Dollar is down against the Euro since 2000. It would be a valuable buy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's the planet Saturn, you reject.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You're both retarded. MARS is the red planet. Jackasses.
        • 6 Years Ago
        cough... the Saturn logo is a picutre of the planet Saturn... cough
      • 6 Years Ago
      Chevrolet vehicles abroad are more budget-minded (rebadged Daewoos) than Chevys here. Chevy here is more like Opel - mainstream. How will selling them side-by-side work?
      • 6 Years Ago
      What about Holden (Australia) and HSV (Holden Special Vehicles).

      The VE series commodore has been very successful in the local market.

      Also, I remember Opel and Vauxhall being sold side by side in the seventies and eighties in the UK- I even think the brand was called Vauxhall-Opel upto the mid eighties?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well the reality is really that the entire operating model of GM must change.

      Saturn,Hummer,SAAB should be shut down because selling them to another automaker that will invest in these brands and possibly use their dealership outlets to introduce new brands and models to the U.S would hurt GM long term severely.

      GM must consolidate and globalize brands or sell them. If GM is unwilling to fold its international divisions completely into Opel or another brand name, the company does nothing to cut its costs.

      Essentially GM currently has 12 brands, but five product lines, which means 7 brands are duplications of other automobiles, which means the company is cannibalizing sales and actually hurting themselves.

      opel/Vauxhall dealers and management wanted the company to become completely separate from GM and GM management. It wouldnt be unthinkable for the Euro-management to entertain the idea of a leveraged buyout and attempt to turn around the struggling euro-units sales and profitability.

      This would take two brands off the balance sheet of GM and allow the company to renew their focus elsewhere on their Global Operations.

      Holden and Daewoo are wildly successful in the markets in which they operate but could also potentially be consolidated and undergo name changes.

      i think as an update to their viability plan, GM should be considering the sale of OPEL/Vauxhall units or a potential Euro-Management led LBO of the divison. This allows a slimmed down GM to really focus on their core and returning to profitability with less overlap and unprofitable brands/operations.

      Saturn-Saab-Hummer- closed by 2012, Opel/Vauxhall- could be marketed for sale.

      This takes five recently unprofitable brands off of GM books while raising capital for their other more profitable operations.

      Pontiac becomes a niche sport brand which will help the company focus on their strengths. (Could be merged with Holden and DAEWOO under the Holden brand or under Pontiac Brand) cut costs, create an international player.

      Even if the company doesnt combine those brands there will be considerable and important savings by getting rid of Hummer-Saab-Saturn and selling the Opel-Vauxhall brand to the Euro-Management team or a private equity firm.

      then GM is left with

      Buick-GMC-Chevrolet-Cadillac- Holden or Pontiac

      Severely cutting unprofitable business units and becoming a strong international brand with purpose and meaning. this is the future of GM if they want to survive.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What about the poor forgotten folks down-under? Holden!!! Which is basically Opel/Vauxhall. Aussies would learn baseball before losing the Holden name!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Replacing Saturn with Opel as brand is probably a good idea. Saturn, at least in my mind, represents some cheap, weird looking plastic cars for people who can't afford something "normal". I understand that this perception and Saturn has many great cars -- but it's more or less perceived as a cheap brand to many rather than a premium European import marque. The Astra and Aura simply does not fit under the Saturn brand in my opinion, just brand them as Opel -- I theoretically know that they are better than Saturns of yesteryears, but the Saturn brand is subtly restricting myself from even considering those cars.

      Just get rid of Saturn.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i say kill buick, and rename it opel (which would prob increase buick model sales), include the more expensive imported opels. this would be the level just above the Chevrolet models. take chevrolet trucks and un-badge-engineer them into GMC. keep the silverado name or whatever. take the saturn brand and make that the global entry brand... since it no longer is a 'different kind of car' this could have the GM/daewoo sub-compacts. if vauxhall is UK only, why not have it and holden more closely related (like real badge engineering with nothing differing except the badges)?

      GMC=trucks all duty ranges
      Saturn=entry level and sub-compacts
      Chevrolet=passenger vehicles
      Pontiac=performance/enthusiast models
      Buick/Opel= mid-level/entry-prestige
      Cadillac=upscale

      or combine buick, pontiac and opel for one brand into Opel

      flame on!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Saturn should be called Opel in the US. Saturn has zero cache anyway. Opel has a cool ass logo and does still yield some snobbery power coming form Europe.
      • 6 Years Ago
      you forgot Holden which is also owned by GM.

      Holden is among the most popular car companies in Australia you know and was even owned by an Australian for a few minutes.

      Holden locally produces almost-mostly re-badged Opels...though designs go the other way sometime, like with the Monaro which became a Pontiac and a Vauxhall.

      In Australia we went wild with re-badging in the 1980s and it was depressing and boring. You see people were loyal to their brand, say Holden, and there's nothing more alarming than your prized Holden being a re-badged daihatsu or whatever. You love the badge and want to burn the car.

      For the sake of pride and as a demonstration that GM is doing something Saturn should just be closed rather than becoming a shadow of its former self, a simple marketing exercise.... And you can forget about importing Opel's. The car market is full as it is, no one is buying new cars, and anyway Opel's just aren't very good - unless they are made by Holden.

      Maybe you should import Holdens - the badge is nice!

      Love and kisses from Australia.

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