• Apr 13, 2009
Saturn was created by General Motors chairman Roger Smith in the late 1980s to be a Different Kind of Car Company. While the first Saturns were generally pretty unremarkable, it was the retail experience that really set the automaker apart from other domestic brands. Saturn was the first marque to adopt a complete no-haggle, no rebate pricing policy and they treated customers like friends. It now appears that the dealers who were the core of the Saturn experience are getting out while the getting is good.

As GM teaters on the brink of insolvency, it's become clear that Saturn will get no new vehicles sourced from within GM and some dealers have decided to close up their stores. Since January 1, two dozen Saturn outlets have shuttered bringing the current total down to 394 with four more in Wisconsin due to close this week. With General Motors making it clear the Saturn brand will either become a separate company or close up entirely, customers are getting the hint and staying away even more than before. Unless a buyer steps up to the plate soon, Saturn will have a tough time making it to the 2012 deadline, even if GM survives.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]


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  • 38 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Someone needs to throw some doe at Saturn and merge them with a company like Tesla. They seem to have a perfect product line to start converting into EVs. Just a crazy idea. I hate to see Saturn go.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Tig and Richard... well-played, gentlemen.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, let us hurl deer at them!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I know some people love their Saturns. They absolutely fawn over them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Tig, Richard, Coolio - Ha! Well-done.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think GM has the bucks!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I said it before and I say it again.

      You cannot set up a company that sells budget cars and is supposed to compete with imports and then furnish it with not-so-budget European imports that are better than what your supposedly not-budget domestic brands can offer in the same class.

      It's like moving youth oriented Scion to a grand parents' market over few years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It wasn't the no haggle that killed them. Scion is no haggle as well. It was starving the company of product until it was too late. GM could not figure out what to do with Saturn. I always thought the best bet was to compete against the fringe cars (Volkswagon, Subaru, Volvo, Saab?) but this would have taken more investment than GM was willing to commit. Many people who bought Saturns were people who would not buy domestics. Do you think these people are going to but Chevys and Buicks?
      • 5 Years Ago
      How is it that a no-haggle price policy was in the interests of the customer? That means that the dealership held their ground and gave up not one red cent in negotiations. Hardly a customer-friendly policy. Oh, and no rebates. Customers hate rebates, right?

      Saturn started out selling plastic cars, with noisy engines, for full price. How was this supposed to be a recipe for success?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because - loads of women flocked to them to get away from the dreaded 4-square shenanigans. I almost bought a mid-90s Saturn wagon, but because a sunroof wasn't available it became a no-go.

        Sad, since they're finally making competitive cars. I especially like the Aura and the Vue.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saturn's failure is a direct result of GM starving the company for product in the first 5-8 years of the brands existence. The original Saturns were hardly class leading designs when introduced and competitively fell behind quickly. GM then had a long product life cycle. When finally replaced the new models were basically warmed over versions of the old.

      Added to that Saturn didn't have a larger model for early buyers who needed one come trade-in time with GM's attitude being that the buyer should buy a Pontiac or Oldsmobile, often the consumer bought a Toyota or Honda. When GM finally provided a larger car is was mediocre and also marked the beginning of the end of Saturn's distinction of having its own product development and manufacturing group, which distinguished the brand from the rest of GM.

      By the time Saturn got decent cars it was too late the brand's image was irretrievably damaged.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Saturn is basically the only american car left that can be towed behind an RV motorhome with all 4 heels down, except for the Jeeo, requiring a $1000 Remco transmission oil pump. Withe the RVs headed to over 3 million sold to the retiring baby boomer, that's a lot of cars lost to sales of Honda, the other car that can be towed, 4 wheels down or over $80 billion in sales lost to Honda. Too bad GM couldn't make another GM model that would do that trick while loosing all those sales to Aisa
      • 5 Years Ago
      "As GM teaters on the brink..."?

      Nice Freudian slip.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Considering the big money GM had to spend to buy out Oldsmobile dealers when they closed them down, wouldn't Saturn dealers be well advised to hang on as long as they can in hopes of getting their own buyout?

      Or is the assumption the GM will file for bankruptcy and use that to escape having to make payouts to Saturn dealers?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Some of those non-negotiation dealers here in the Twin Cities area are suffering a little.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe Mahindra could use the Saturn network to sell their new compact trucks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saturn is done, it's going away just like Oldsmobile, Plymouth and Eagle went away about ten years ago.

      Nobody is going to step up and buy it, nobody is going to spend billions to try and make it work like GM did, the dealers are going to cut their losses and close up shop or become used car outlets, nobody is stupid enough to waste precious money on a proposition that has ALWAYS lost.

      There's nothing to weep over. Weak brands that consumers shun go away and the strong ones remain. And there's nothing wrong with that.

      The biggest tragedy is that GM wasted so much of their resources on this terrible idea in the first place and didn't put it out of it's misery sooner.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saturn has so much potential that I think GM was too scared to have them succeed. Hands down the Saturn Sky is better styled then the Solstice, the same with the Aura better looking then the Malibu & G6, even the Astra was better then the Cobalt. Saturn became GM's bastard child...It's like GM wanted Saturn to fail...I think they did pretty good to know they sold as much as they did with relative no marketing pushing their products....

      Instead you have GM spending X amount of money trying to convince people to buy a Buick and to changes Buick's image as being for retired folks living in Florida...

      Theres only 3 Brands where GM hit the brand Identity on the spot and those are Cadillac's, Chevy's and Hummer...everything else is in limbo they don't know what to do with them and are spending too many resources in changing their brands images around.... Instead of making Buick a near Lexus they should just bank on them being for old folks, when you reach a certain age Buick is the car to have. Saturn? they should of left Saturn being the different company...
        • 5 Years Ago
        "GM was too scared to have them succeed"

        Specifically, it was the other divisions plus a faction in the UAW that wanted them to fail. The other divisions were upset that Saturn was siphoning money off from them and there were people in the UAW that didn't appreciate how the rules were different at Spring Hill. Once Saturn's patrons were gone, the knives came out to eviscerate it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There was a piece in Autoblog about Saturn's planned "partner" a few weeks ago in Autoblog, so this is an odd follow-up to that story-- an announcement is forthcoming, after all. Assuming Saturn survives, whether or not the new partners' cars will be badged as Saturns or using the original manufacturer's name (Opel, Mahindra, etc.) remains to be seen. Peugeot/Citroen can use Saturn's modest-sized dealership network and facilities as a launching pad to the USA-- because Peugeots and Citroens are being produced in South America right now: The Peugeot 206, 207 Compact, 307, 307 Sedan, Partner, the Citroën C4, C4 Sedan and Berlingo in Buenos Aries, Argentina, and the Citroën C3 and Xsara Picasso and Peugeot 206, 207 SW (Mercosur), 207 Passion in Porto Real, Brazil. See link:

      http://www.psa-peugeot-citroen.com/en/psa_group/sites_b4.php

      With free trade agreements in place, I believe these models can be brought up north for significantly less than from Europe. Problem solved.
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