• Feb 19, 2009
Yesterday we told you about Saturn's proposed plan to become independent of General Motors. Today we have more details via a letter that Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak just sent to the brand's faithful owners that warns of changes to come. Using the company's "Different Kind of Car Company" tagline, she points out that Saturn has always sought to do things differently. Whether it's no-haggle shopping, dent-resistant cars or luxury-car levels of customer service in a mainstream dealership, Saturn has been a pioneer on several fronts. Now the company is looking to blaze a trail on another path entirely. As part of GM's Viability Plan, Saturn will only be supported with new GM vehicles through 2011. Unless the company gets spun off, GM will phase out the brand. That's where the new plan comes in.

Saturn could go independent, with dealers taking over the Saturn Distribution Corporation. The SDC is the existing "indirect subsidiary" of GM that manages franchise agreements with dealers. Under this proposed plan, the dealers would essentially buy the Saturn name and continue to run Saturn dealerships. The catch is that after 2011 they would have to arrange to distribute non-GM vehicles in their showrooms. As Jill explains it, the goal would be to find "future vehicles that match the Saturn Brand: fuel-efficient, safe, reliable and affordable." This could directly benefit Chinese or Indian automakers looking for a foothold in the U.S.

You can read the full letter from Jill after the jump. Thanks for the tip, Mike!

[Source: Saturn Events, | Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty]





From our very beginning, Saturn has always sought a better way. We pioneered no-hassle, no-haggle shopping, built dent-resistant cars, set a new benchmark for customer service and forged a unique relationship with our retailers, workers and customers. From the beginning, Saturn was launched as a "Different Kind of Car Company."

Well, here we go again.

You may have read that General Motors delivered a plan to the U.S. government that outlined the corporation's plan for long-term viability. In that plan, GM stated that Saturn would work with its retailers to investigate options for the future of the Saturn Brand. We said that all ideas were on the table and we meant it.

Today, we confirmed that Saturn and GM would further investigate one of those options: a spin-off of an independent Saturn Distribution Corporation.

The Saturn Distribution Corporation already exists as an indirect subsidiary of GM. It's the entity with which our retailers currently have their franchise agreement. An independent Saturn would still have its great retailers, and it would continue to source current products from GM through 2011. If successful, SDC at that point would source products from other manufacturers.

The goal-from a product perspective-would be to find future vehicles that match the Saturn Brand: fuel-efficient, safe, reliable and affordable. From a retailing perspective, we would build on our core strength of unmatched customer service. The same hassle-free experience that is a hallmark of the brand could be taken to even higher levels.

While this process proceeds, we will continue to do what we have always done best: sell great vehicles and take care of our customers. We have a fresh portfolio of award-winning, fuel-efficient vehicles and a network of retailers that is second to none. And our new vehicles are still backed by a 100,000-mile/5-year (whichever comes first) Transferable Powertrain Limited Warranty. When you add Roadside Assistance and Courtesy Transportation programs, we believe it is the industry's best overall coverage. It is coverage that GM and Saturn will continue to firmly stand behind, and GM will support the continued availability of Saturn parts and service as needed.

This is an exciting time at the Saturn Brand, and I have to confess, it feels a bit like it did back in the 1980s when the original Saturn project was being developed. As loyal Saturn owners and enthusiasts, I know you support this brand, and you can believe we are working toward a vibrant future. Difficult times sometimes yield the most innovative solutions, and those who are willing to take on the challenge will emerge victorious. Stay tuned.

Sincerely,



Jill Lajdziak
General Manager, Saturn


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 63 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      This might work. Think... cell phone business model. You go in to a store that has service that you like, pick out the phone that best matches your wants/needs, sign the paperwork, and then pay a monthly fee to use the product. after a few years, you go back, sign another contract, and get a new one.

      If people are willing to pay nearly $100 a month for an iPhone (for two years), why wouldn't they be willing to pay $300 a month for a snazzy looking car (for 3-5 yrs)?

      Probably would be easiest if one manufacturer signed on at a time - I don't think an Alfa 147 badged as an Astra would be so bad...
      • 5 Years Ago
      The real question here is can Saturn become the Sears of the autoworld selling cars like Sears sells Kenmore Appliances. Sears doesn't make jack squat Kenmore anything its all subcontracted out as GE & Frigidaire make all the Kenmore refrigerators whereas Whirlpool makes all the dishwashers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Unbelievable. GM is dying because, among other things, their own dealer network is too large. They compete with each other forcing down prices on all GM products. Even after GM kills their brand, the just won't go away.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Safe and Reliable" doesn't exactly fit the bill for those supposed Chinese cars that want a foothold in the US market.

      I want to see them manufacture their own vehicles... I don't know how, or if that's even feasible, but the domestic market needs some variety aside from the restrictive and old business / industry techniques of the Big 3.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Safe and Reliable" doesn't exactly fit the bill for those supposed Chinese cars that want a foothold in the US market.

        - it didn't apply to the Japanese cars 20+ years ago but look at Infiniti, Lexus and Acura now....the Chinese are coming...."

        You are correct, my first Japanese car was a brand new Datsun 2000 in 1968. That car was fun to drive but otherwise a piece of junk. Datsun's were so bad that Nissan was forced to change the name of the car to Nissan, just like the company name.

        • 5 Years Ago
        "Safe and Reliable" doesn't exactly fit the bill for those supposed Chinese cars that want a foothold in the US market.

        - it didn't apply to the Japanese cars 20+ years ago but look at Infiniti, Lexus and Acura now....the Chinese are coming....
      • 5 Years Ago
      The American car ownerconsumer will run like hell from Saturn as they are from Dodge. This benefits Ford again since Saturn is related to GM. Nothing will save this now and you can thank Lutz for it. That press release (slip) will have gigantic fallout. If you want to see someone living in lala land, find me someone who wants to startup a dead brand in this market and economy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmm, Saturn Nano.
      tpfilm
      • 5 Years Ago
      The poster commenting about Saturns made in America forgot to mention that the VUE is made in Mexico.

      One thing that always gets me about the people who say I only buy American cars. Wether they are made in Canada or in Mexico. They usually go on to say something like "I support the UAW." Buy American, only.

      They forget that:

      the UAW is not in Mexico
      Canada and Mexico are NOT states in the US
      Cars made in Korea that have American badges on them, are not US/UAW made.

      My definition of American made:

      Johnny or Jennie American and several of their co-workers, inside a factory somewhere in the US, putting together a car, truck or SUV. That's American made. But, I know a lot of people think differently. The same ones that were laid off two years ago and can't bring themselves to go to the Honda/Toyota/BMW/Hyundai/Nissan/VW/KIA (coming soon) plant and try to get a job.

      Having said all that: my wife and I have owned 4 Saturns (on the 4th one now.) We have enjoyed buying them, owning them, driving them, getting them serviced at local Saturn dealer, etc. The lease Saturn 4 is up next month. I had been looking at an '07 VUE Green Line because I like the design, size, look and (yes) the plastic panels of the old VUE (maybe because I live in the South I have never noticed large gaps.) Not going to buy it now. Not going to buy any GM product. Only like the Jeep Wrangler from Chrysler, and nothing jumps at me from Ford (Escape is too small compared to VUE.) What will I buy? A Santa Fe. Made in America, by Americans (built in AL, designed in US & Korea.)

      Let the flames begin.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Thats too bad. Saturn has been really coming back with strong models over the past couple of years (subtract ion/ion coupe). The Saturn Sky will be missed most.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So Saturn mailed out approx 1.5 million letters yesterday.
      what did that cost??? Close to a Million $?

      they really love spending our money.

      • 5 Years Ago
      That "thud" was Saturn resale values hitting bottom.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or Saturn coming back down to Earth.
        Time to wake up and face reality.
      • 5 Years Ago
      hello to all.

      comment 38 and comment 43 had imho the right idea for saturn. adam opel ag pretty much operates autonomously within gm anyway. so they should be talking with saturn as we speak. opel has been getting better and better for the past thirty years in terms of product, while gm north america finally is turning around. if the dealer group could include the spring hill, tn. plant; i believe that would work in the long term.

      saturn has the perfect marketing strategy. all they have to do is get solid product from opel and holden to form a cohesive line-up. and they have the right amount of dealers to do this. provide an alternative to the typical marques like volkswagen and honda. imho i do not see any better way for saturn at this point. and include saab as well.

      regards,
      vrmchris
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Different Kind of Car Company" = Non Profitable Division of Behemoth Car Company Soon To Disappear

      Somehow different doesn't seem to be better.
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