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.
General Manager, Saturn