Saturn on GM's chopping block?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by stonej, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. stonej

    stonej Guest

    The rumor mill is saying that, I guess we will find out next week.
    stonej, Nov 29, 2008
  2. stonej

    raamman Guest

    I'm betting gm will try to sell it to the chinese, followed by the
    east indians; if there are no takers it'll be toast ( development
    costs vs poor sales)
    raamman, Nov 29, 2008
  3. stonej

    marx404 Guest

    just a rumor for now. lots of chatter going on at nothing to
    see here.
    marx404, Nov 30, 2008
  4. stonej

    raamman Guest

    where there's smoke there's fire
    raamman, Nov 30, 2008
  5. stonej

    PerfectReign Guest

    Wouldn't be suprised.

    Back when Saturn was started, it was a new experiment and a "different way"
    of doing business.

    Now it is just a GM divsion selling European models and taking up real

    I'd be happy if we could have the Opel Vectra or - even better - an Opel
    Kadett here in the us!

    "Wir sind die Jungs von der Opel-Gang!"
    PerfectReign, Dec 1, 2008
  6. stonej

    Jay R Guest

    One of my neighbors is sales manager for a Saturn dealer. He indicated that
    while it and most of the brands will go away, the popular models will stay.

    He also said the only Opel they sell is the Astra and they are not moving
    many. All the other lines are domestically designed and produced.

    They did shut down the Spring Hill non-union plant as part of the
    negotiations in the last concession talks.

    The US car makers complain about foreign sales but continue to import all
    their small models because they cannot find a way to make them cheaply.

    Until they cut the fat and find a way out from the $1,800 per car retireree
    benefits burden, I can't see any way for them to compete.
    Jay R, Dec 5, 2008
  7. stonej

    PerfectReign Guest

    I agree.

    Just saw this (and posted on the Chevy Avalanche Fan Club site...),0,2822449.story?track=rss

    GM may pull plug on Saturn
    The brand was created to compete with efficient imports but has never shown
    a profit, making it vulnerable as automakers struggle.
    By Ken Bensinger

    December 4, 2008

    General Motors Corp. launched its Saturn division in 1985 as a "different
    kind of car company," one given the task to sell cars in a new way and
    compete with Japanese juggernauts like Honda and Toyota.

    The idea, simply, was to make money on the small, economical vehicles that
    had always been losers for the Detroit giant.

    Now GM may be abandoning the brand altogether.

    The sweeping restructuring plan GM released this week in hopes of squeezing
    $18 billion in aid out of Congress includes a pledge to "explore
    alternatives" for Saturn.

    GM officials say options include overhauling the lineup, partnering with
    another carmaker, selling the brand and, potentially, sending Saturn off to
    the junkyard.

    GM's Swedish luxury brand Saab might also be sold, and Pontiac could be
    transformed into a "niche" brand inside other dealerships.

    But the decision to consider pulling the plug on Saturn, the agile little
    start-up that GM developed to reinvent the way it produced and sold cars,
    is a bitter reminder of just how deep the automaker's troubles run.

    Saturn, after all, was created to do almost everything that GM, industry
    experts and many members of Congress say a modern car company has to do to
    survive in today's market: Make a limited range of small, fuel-efficient
    cars, then sell them through a small network of dealers for a profit.

    There was just one hitch: GM says Saturn never made a profit.

    At its plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., Saturn made simple, unfussy cars
    designed to appeal to penny-wise drivers. But the price point of the
    vehicles -- in recent years as low as $12,000 on some models -- was far too
    low to cover the cost of producing and marketing them, analysts say.

    In response, the company raised prices substantially, to an average of about
    $17,000 two years ago and about $24,000 today. To accomplish that, however,
    the company had to stock the lineup with larger, fancier vehicles like the
    hulking Outlook sport utility vehicle.

    The Outlook, which seats eight, starts at $31,000 and seemingly has nothing
    in common with the no-fuss economy sedans like the S-Series, which debuted
    in 1991 with a sticker price of $7,995.

    "To broadly stereotype, Saturn buyers are single women teachers," said Eric
    Noble, president of Car Lab, an industry consulting firm in Orange. "They
    don't need an eight-person SUV."

    So far this year, Saturn sales are down 21% from 2007 levels, compared with
    a 16% drop for the auto industry as a whole.

    Two years ago, GM announced plans to bring much of the lineup from its
    German division, Opel, to the U.S. and rebadge them as Saturns. The idea
    was to deliver high-styled yet efficient European-made cars that would
    compete with the likes of the Honda Accord and the Toyota Corolla.

    The first such import, the Saturn Astra, arrived on dealer lots in January.
    But it sells fully loaded for just $21,000, and as the euro skyrocketed
    against the dollar earlier this year, the Astra became wildly unprofitable
    at that price.

    Through November, 10,813 Astras had been sold, fewer than the BMW 7-series,
    which starts at $77,000.

    Each Astra cost GM "several thousand dollars more than they had anticipated"
    to get to market, said Ken Croft, general manager of Saturn of Cerritos,
    the largest Saturn store west of the Mississippi.

    Croft's sales have declined 38% this year, forcing the dealership to combine
    its new and used-car sales staff and to lay off three salespeople.

    On Wednesday morning, the lone customer on his lot was Bob Suhajda, a Los
    Angeles-area accountant. Suhajda said he preferred U.S.-made cars and would
    be reluctant to buy a Saturn if it came under foreign ownership.

    "I came to Saturn because it's an American product," said Suhajda, who was
    eyeing the Skye convertible, a two-seat roadster. "If a Chinese or Indian
    company bought it, I would hesitate."

    Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president for North American sales, service and
    marketing, said it was too early to be sure of what exactly would be done
    with Saturn. But in light of the company's woes, he said, "it's very
    difficult to say we can afford the luxury of keeping brands that are not

    And Saturn, LaNeve added, was never profitable for GM.

    To find the black, GM plans to thin Saturn's dealer ranks, bring in more
    European cars it could rebrand as Saturns such as the subcompact Opel
    Agila, and kill existing models like the Aura -- a near carbon-copy of the
    Chevy Malibu.

    If those efforts fail, a sale might be the next option.

    That could be complicated, experts say, because Opel has been ramping up
    production to supply cars to Saturn in the U.S. If the brand is sold,
    however, GM probably would insist that the buyer absorb those vehicles so
    that its profitable European unit would not be stuck with a glut of cars.

    LaNeve and other GM officials say they hope to avoid a sale. But according
    to an individual familiar with GM operations, who spoke under condition of
    anonymity because of a business relationship with the company, GM had
    already prepared sales prospectuses for both Saturn and Saab long before it
    delivered its plan to Congress.

    The final option, LaNeve said, would be to eliminate the brand, something he
    says GM does not want to do. That may be partly because its contracts with
    its 211 dealers (who operate 425 stores) require payouts when a brand is
    terminated. GM paid more than $1 billion to kill Oldsmobile early this

    Another hurdle would be the unusual franchise agreement GM has with Saturn

    With other brands, GM has unilateral decision-making power. But Saturn
    dealers have eight seats on a 16-member Franchise Operating Team and have a
    vote in major business moves, such as the decision this year to allow all
    GM dealers to sell certified pre-owned vehicles from all other GM brands.

    That structure gives dealers such as Michael Greene, owner of Saturn of
    Whittier and Harris Buick Pontiac GMC, some reason for optimism. He lost
    his Oldsmobile franchise in 2001 when that brand was killed, but in
    exchange GM helped him acquire the Buick Pontiac GMC franchise.

    "I don't believe that Saturn will go away," Greene said. "I doubt very
    seriously they will close a brand they have put this much time and money

    One of Saturn's famously loyal customers is Chelsea Sexton of El Segundo,
    co-founder of Lightning Rod, which advocates alternative vehicles.

    Sexton worked for Saturn in the early days, spending three years as a
    saleswoman starting in 1993 and staying on with the company in marketing,
    ultimately working in the development of GM's first electric car before
    leaving in 2001.

    Now she finds it hard to believe that the brand may go extinct.

    "It was one of the only brands that GM has that tried new things and
    introduced new kinds of products," said Sexton, who is driving her eighth
    Saturn. "To kill that off seems absurd."
    PerfectReign, Dec 5, 2008
  8. stonej

    Jay R Guest

    We have been happy with them.

    Started with a second hand SL2 for my older son when he got out of college..
    Bought an 05 Ion for my wife, gave that to #2 son when he went off to school
    and replaced it with a Vue. I bought a Sky in late 07 to mend my mid life

    They have all been great.

    We have only had one warranty problem with the ignition switch acting up
    when it is cold and enabling an anti theft feature which keeps the car from
    starting for like a half hour.

    The article is right, there are enough big cars out there. They should
    focus on the little guys to compete with the Psions, Yaris and Versa'a.

    Small, cheap, and sporty.
    Jay R, Dec 6, 2008
  9. stonej

    Gyzmologist Guest

    I own a 2007 Saturn Sky and I believe it is really an Opel GT, despite
    the GM marketing hype to the contrary. If it is an American design, then
    why does it have those stupid German seat back adjusters? I once owned a
    POC 68 Volkswagen Beetle and it had them! (I have driven current models
    and still hate Volkswagen To this day)

    As a former NIASE certified mechanic I believe I have the right to bash
    German cars. I may be 75% German, but I'm not stupid (well, maybe only
    75% stupid).

    Back to the original topic. If GM cans the Saturn brand, then I think
    Saturn dealers should become Opel dealers.

    Gyzmologist, Dec 13, 2008
  10. stonej

    marx404 Guest

    Wow, I thought this thread was old and had died already, but it seems not
    and neither has all the mis-information.

    First, Spring Hill has not closed. As the ION was phased out to be replaced
    with the Belgian-built Astra the plant was retooled by GM to build the third
    variation of the Outlook which is the Chevy Traverse. The other two are GMC
    Acadia and Buick Enclave.

    Second, The SKY is NOT an Opel, it is actualy a shared platform derived from
    the Pontiac Solstice and was designed originally as a prototype for Vauxhall
    UK and first shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show back in 2004 and built only
    for Saturn. A very small percentage of SKYs are rebadged in Wilmington as
    Opel GTs and Daewoo G2X (also owned by GM) and shipped overseas. Both
    Solstice and SKY are built side by side in Wilmington DE. Yes, obviously
    there is European influence.

    Third, the Astra. Poorly marketed replacement built in Antwerp Belgium (in
    the same factory that most Astras are built) and retrofitted to US standards
    with only minor touches like cupholders. Other than that, it is a true
    German built Opel Astra. The 1.8L engine is one and the same of the many
    engine choices already available in Opel and Vauxhall models world-wide.
    Opel is a 125 year old GM owned company which builds cars all over the
    world. The US was the last company to recieve the Astra. Buick tried it's
    hand with selling Opels in the early '70's and was unsucessful. GM says it
    ran out of budget and therefore never advertised the new Astra much under
    the Saturn name and due to high shipping tarrifs GM overpriced the car which
    combined led to poor sales. The German-based Astra has been the second most
    popular sold car in Europe next to VW's for the last 10 years. Saturn/GM is
    now correcting it's pricing mistakes on the Atsra and it can be bought for
    less than an Aveo. The Astra is now one of Saturn's highest quality cars in
    fit and finish. I own one.

    Fourth. Saturn is not dead. GM is in talks with Store owners about future
    possibilities involving Saturn and there are many possibilities. It's just
    not a cut and dried conversation, because nobody knows, not even all the
    news media you all are reading and those who may know aren't talking at all.

    Other than the Outlook, the new Saturn line-up is a shared platform with the
    Opel/Vauxhall family. Astra = Astra, Aura = Vectra, VUE = Antara, SKY = Opel
    GT. If you desire more information, Wikipedia has some very good and factual
    marx404, Dec 16, 2008
  11. stonej

    Jay R Guest

    Not sure where the design came from but mine was built in Delaware.
    Jay R, Dec 16, 2008
  12. stonej

    marx404 Guest

    Jay, read my post.
    marx404, Dec 17, 2008
  13. stonej

    raamman Guest

    I heard about that "talk"- go out there and sell ! sell ! sell ! - a
    scene out of boiler room.
    raamman, Dec 24, 2008
  14. stonej

    Jon Jon Guest

    SATURN .. heck with SATURN being on GM's chopping block........ GM is on
    their own chopping block -------------

    My Aunt, who buys a new car every 2 years, bought a new Chevrolet
    Corsica .. drove it .. kept hearing this "rattling noise" in the front

    After 2 trips to the Chevy Dealer with no mechnical problems found - but
    the rattle still there - 3rd trip produced a Body Shop trip.

    Removal of the inner and outer fender produced an empty beer can inside
    the fender.

    Needless to say she has no sympathy for the UAW WORKERS at GM.

    She'll probably buy a new car in the next 2 years, doubt it will be a GM
    product though.
    Jon Jon, Dec 26, 2008
  15. stonej

    marx404 Guest

    Well that explains what inspired the Corsica.
    marx404, Dec 29, 2008
  16. stonej

    Jon Jon Guest

    Laughing my Ass Off ... I did ask my Aunt, who appreciates my humor
    "What kinda beer was it?" .. she said "Hell, I dunno, but it was in a
    can" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jon Jon, Dec 31, 2008
  17. stonej

    SMS Guest

    The development costs aren't that high any more because Saturn is
    sharing standard GM platforms, not building low-volume Saturn-only
    platforms as in the past. GM also wants to sell Saab, which at least has
    its own product line, but no one is likely to buy Saab and it will be
    shut down, ditto for Hummer. Ford wants to get rid of Volvo, and they
    may find a taker for it since at least it's been profitable in the
    recent past.

    I guess one of the Chinese or Indian manufacturers that is seeking a
    dealer network that's already in place might want to buy the Saturn
    brand. It'll be like so many other old brand names that have been
    purchased by new companies.
    SMS, Feb 24, 2009
Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.