• May 5th 2009 at 8:58AM
  • 26
General Motors is busy putting the finishing touches on its third (or is it fourth?) viability plan, part of which involves the sale or shut down of the Saturn division. While many were expecting GM to close down Saturn, GM has released a press release to tell the world that the fledgling marquee is on the block, and there are several suitors in hot pursuit. The new owner will inherit the Saturn name and its 400 dealer-strong retail network. Advisory firm S.J. Girsky & Co. has been retained by GM to facilitate a deal.

The biggest of the Detroit 3 isn't putting a timetable on a Saturn sale, but the General is hoping to get something done later in the year. GM also isn't identifying any potential buyers at this time, but the Saturn dealer body has expressed interest in saving the marquee.

What isn't known is how much GM would be involved in future Saturn planning. All Saturns currently share platforms and are built in factories with other GM products. Unless GM also sells the new owner a factory (there will likely be a few open facilities to choose from), it will have to provide product for several years.

We'll likely find out more about Saturn's fate when GM submits its viability plan to the U.S. Auto Task Force on June 1. Follow the jump to read the brief GM press release.

[Source: GM]


GM to proceed with efforts to sell Saturn

DETROIT - General Motors is proceeding to the next step with respect to the sale of Saturn. A number of potential buyers have surfaced and expressed interest in the Saturn brand and retailer network. GM will be reviewing expressions of interest from the potential buyers and will look to secure an agreement with a specific buyer later this year. S.J. Girsky&Co. has been retained by GM as advisor for this transaction. Saturn will continue to keep its retailers updated on its progress throughout this process.

About Saturn:
Saturn markets vehicles in the U.S. and Canada through a network of about 400 retailer locations, with a focus on providing innovative products with solid value and excellent customer service. The brand has one of the freshest lineups in the industry: the Sky roadster, the Aura midsize sedan, the Vue compact crossover, the midsize Outlook crossover and Astra compact car. Saturn currently offers two of the most affordable hybrids on the road, the Vue Hybrid and the Aura Hybrid.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think the only logical buyer really would be some Chinese maker. It would give them the dealer network to sell their China made cars in the US as 'Saturns'. Thats only if their cars could meet US crash and emission standards anyway hah.
      • 6 Years Ago
      My first real car was a 1995 Saturn SC1, Black Gold was the color. For a kid it was an awesome car, 50mpg on trips even thought the stated was 40mpg I think. But at a steady 65mph I could easily hit 50mpg. Then it was also fun to autocross, and I won many trophies with that car.

      Later on I bought a 98 SC1 (closer to a GM car now), the gas mileage was not as good, I found it hard to even get 40mpg which I think was the stated mileage. The handling was gone thanks to a new suspension in the rear. I think this car was on the Cobalt chassis or something. I was really cross for selling my older Saturn.

      Dealer networks are great though, and talk about customer service. I can walk into the dealership where I bought my first car nearly 15-years ago and still talk to the man that I bought my car from. Ohh and you get cute pictures to give to family members! ;)

      Now I have a 2003 Vue with a variable drive - thankfully it still works, only one dealer repair since new. But I know that if Saturn dies, my Vue will need to be shot and put out to rest.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Saturn is Penske material? :)

        Somehow I am very doubtful on these offers that come from other than carmakers. Cerberus was pretty clueless in running Chrysler, so would Penske make any difference? Then again, Saturn is a slightly different case altogether.. hmm.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think Saturn's main appeal was more the customer service and experience than the cars themselves. At least in the early days.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Unless GM is really trying to sell its fledging sign and the dealer body is really concerned about saving the sign, I'm pretty sure the word you're looking to use in this story is "marque" not "marquee."
        • 6 Years Ago
        Thanks TopG, was about to correct them on that.

        Marque = Brand name of an automobile.
        Marquee = Rooflike projection above a theater entrance, usually containing the name of a currently featured play or film and its stars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Maybe Saturn can buy from Opel/fiat. I've owned a number of Saturn's. While the car's have not been perfect ,the dealer sales and service was top notch. many times the car was fixed while i waited, they stock a large number of parts at the dealer i go to. my sun visor mirror door cracked, and they had it in stock, on in about ten minutes. The rest of GM can sink under the waves of mismanagement and I will not even blink an eye. I will miss my Saturn.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've mentioned this in previous posts, but a logical suitor would be Peugeot/Citroen, if only because they have manufacturing plants cranking out cars in South America (and are sold as far north as Mexico) right now. The problem with any Opel-badged Saturns lies in the exchange rate: It's widely reported that Saturn loses money with each Astra sale. While this is a logical pairing, it certainly doesn't mean that it will happen-- no offense to any of the smaller Asian carmakers eyeing North America, but I'd rather buy a Citroen than a Geeley or Mahindra.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As a Saturn owner since 1992 and a Employee from 2002-2009 I am hopful that Saturn will be purchased from GM. GM's problem is that they compete against themselves instead of the transplanted foreign manufacturers. Keep in mind that the foreign competition builds a lot of cars here using American workers their engingeering is not superior. There is parity in quality in my opinion . Over time, the public will come to realize this. ( hopefully before it is too late). Here is my suggestion for GM 's restructuring.

      Except for Cadillac, which would remain separate al la Lexus, GM needs to select their platforms , badge them and all the pared down dealer network with the GM logo and make all their marques trim levels sold at each of their combined dealers. All the divisional management and R&D should be combined and staffs reduced overall. Savings tooling, elimination of divisional management and the reduction in advertising costs would be huge. Focus on build Quality by partnering with the UAW , Styling and Materials.
      Badging the platforms as trim levels would keep brand loyalists in the fold. Heck, you could even bring back Olds as a trim level. For example , Epsilon platform 2007 and 2008 N. American car of the year AURA and Malibu, very competitive cars. Pick one set of sheet metal badge as follows (entry level)" Malibu by Chevrolet , Mid level "Aura by Saturn" next level "G6 GXP (performance) by Pontiac" Lacrosse by Buick" luxury level. Let each remaining dealer order these trim levels per their local demographic. As a former Saturn Sales Consultant, it was a regular occurance for AURA customers to have the Malibu or G6 on their list or ; in the case of the Lambda platform Acadia , Outlook ,Traverse,and Enclave. It would have been nice to have each trim level on our lot and also convienent to the customer.
      Alas, this is only my theory for a solution. Wagoneer is at home not lamenting the gridlock amongst the divisions he had to deal with while the company was going down the tubes. The other retired mangement regreting that they could have kept developing EV1 and had the public perceive GM and not Toyota as the leader of alternative technology.
      It is a shame !!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Say you buy Saturn, what do you get?

      All I see are rebadged GM vehicles. Is GM going to throw in some factories, engineering branches, testing facilities?
        • 6 Years Ago
        This whole scheme makes such good sense that I am shocked to see GM management might agree to it.

        The buyer gets 400 pretty new and decent dealerships that have an income from existing warranty work and an established customer base. A brand that is fairly well known with some entry level appeal. Access to some GM rebadges for a few years while they work on deals to replace them with products from overseas manufacturers that can't afford to set up a chain of dealerships in North America but would like access to the market (Chinese brands, Indian brands, etc).

        GM get's money for something they would have thrown away. Avoids the dealer lawsuits. Has a customer willing to buy some of their excess capacity to sell as rebadges. If things go well enough they might even be interested in buying an old plant and some tooling. For instance it's a long shot but if the new owner did a better job promoting and selling the Sky it is possible to imagine them buying the plant and the tooling at fire sale prices since GM plans on killing it anyway.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm getting tired of hearing the same press release from GM regarding Saturn, every week since December...Makes me glad I don't work for Saturn anymore!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Saturn had some great car features early on but got sucked up into the GM mold and lost their individuality. What a shame.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I do hope Saturn can be saved. Maybe the new owners will build the Sky coupe similar to the Pontiac Solstice coupe.
        • 6 Years Ago
        And who is going to build the Solstice?
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