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Saturn has officially been killed by GM after the Penske Automotive Group failed to secure a producer of the vehicles and the sale to Penske fell through.  (Source: Jalopnik)

The death will shut down 350 dealerships nationwide and will cost approximately 13,000 jobs. It also marks an embarrassment for Penske and a loss of sales revenue for GM.  (Source: MSNBC)

Saturn will largely be remembered for its "No Haggle" policy, its success in the early 90s, and its resurgence between 2000-2008 with new models like the 2007 Saturn Sky, pictured here.  (Source: Drag Times)
Saturn brand meets its demise when deal with the Penske Automotive Group falls through

There was a death to report yesterday in the automotive industry.  At only 24 years of age, the Saturn brand was officially laid to rest by GM.  The brand was always one of great ups and downs, but in the end a champion to save it failed to emerge.

The Saturn brand was officially formed in 1985 and the first cars rolled off the assembly line in 1990.  The brand projected a U.S. family-friendly image and produced high quality small vehicles to compete with Nissan, Honda, and Toyota imports.  Also popular was Saturn's famous "No Haggle" price policy.

However, the expenses of the vehicles' quality and that policy left the brand relatively unprofitable.  It is unclear if even at its greatest sales year it turned a profit.  As a result, GM didn't give it the product it needed to stay fresh, and it fell behind other brands in the 90s.  At the turn of the millennium GM tried to revitalize the brand, and it seemed to be working.  Customer interest in new models like the Saturn Vue, Ion, and Sky soon rose and the brand looked poised for a comeback.  Then the recession came.

Even its new vigor was not enough to outweigh its weakness in the late 90s and Saturn found itself among the many brands on GM's chopping block, along with Saab, Hummer, Vauxhall, Opel, and Pontiac.  Under government supervision, GM worked out a sale of Saturn to the Penske Automotive Group, founded by racing legend Roger Penske.  The group already owned 310 auto retailers, so it seemed a perfect fit for the brand

The deal was almost complete, but one major aspect remained unanswered -- who would produce the vehicles.  GM agreed to temporarily take on some of the design and engineering responsibilities and transition these task to Penske.  It also agreed to produce Saturn vehicles, but only until 2011.  Penske needed someone to take over production from GM.  Reportedly, Renault Samsung Motors Co., a South Korean subsidy of France's Renault motors which doesn't currently import in the U.S., was among of those considered to take on the task of producing of Saturn-branded vehicles abroad and then shipping them to the U.S.

The Boulogne Billancourt, France-based automaker wrote, "Renault has been in contact with Penske to supply cars, parts and technology to Saturn through an OEM agreement.  The conditions for an agreement have not been found."

At the end of the day, the mystery third-party producer pulled out when its board reportedly rejected the deal to produce Saturn vehicles.  This left Penske without a producer past 2011.  Penske terminated the deal and GM terminated Saturn.

The mood was a dismal one when the brand, beloved by many, was laid to rest.  With it goes 13,000 jobs, largely in Michigan, and 350 dealerships, which have until October 2010 to close.

GM expressed its disappointment with the development, with Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson stating, "This is very disappointing news and comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality."

Some analysts were shocked that GM let the deal collapse, losing the profit of the sale.  Stephen Spivey, an auto analyst with Frost & Sullivan in San Antonio, states, "I’m a little surprised that there was no plan B here.  It’s surprising to me that Penske had no idea that this might not be accepted."

Indeed, the loss could hurt GM's reputation, according to analysts.  GM also lacks a clear plan to salvage Saturn's hybrid technology and other important technologies from the brand.  For Penske it represents an embarrassing mar on the group's traditionally strong track record, which has included such successes as brokering a deal with Daimler as the exclusive import of Smart cars.

Many analysts are simply lamenting what could have been.  Rebecca Linland, an analyst at IHS Global Insight, states, "Saturn is the brand you wanted to like.  It is the little brand that could have and should have [been great]."



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Thanks God!!
By Miko66 on 10/1/2009 9:23:49 AM , Rating: -1
With The amount of trouble my family has had with the 2000 LS2 model, it doesn't surprise my that this company was folded. The support at their dealerships sucked and the car itself was just too problematic. Thanks for dropping dead Saturn.




RE: Thanks God!!
By R3T4rd on 10/1/09, Rating: 0
RE: Thanks God!!
By TomZ on 10/1/2009 10:00:44 AM , Rating: 1
The main achievement that Saturn had was great marketing. The people who were buying those cars early on were practically brainwashed Saturn zombies. They thought Saturn cars were a breed apart from all others.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Manch on 10/1/2009 10:45:00 AM , Rating: 5
The main achievement that Apple has is great marketing. The people who are buying those I-Phones are practically brainwashed Apple zombies. They thought Apple products are a breed apart from all others.

Sorry, I couldn't resist


RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 10:57:11 AM , Rating: 5
Yup. Add Monster Cable and Bose to that list as well.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Mitch101 on 10/1/2009 12:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
You got to thank Bose and Monster Cable they help you identify those without a clue who have an identity crisis that try to brand themselves as better than others with the stuff they buy because they lack personality. Just my opinion.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Manch on 10/1/2009 12:53:11 PM , Rating: 3
Monster Cable is a rip off period. Bose while nice, they're just too damn expensive. You never find them on sale, ever.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 1:00:47 PM , Rating: 2
...you are confused. Bose products are not "nice" - they are sub-par compared to everything else on the market. The are worse than everything else.


RE: Thanks God!!
By quiksilvr on 10/1/2009 1:10:26 PM , Rating: 1
I wouldn't go THAT far. Their QuietComfort headphones are really great, but alas, they need to chop off $100 from it to be realistic.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 1:14:48 PM , Rating: 3
I would. There's a reason that Bose will not allow ANY qualified industry source, like an audiophile magazine, to review their products. Bose categorically will NOT let you review their products if you are qualified to do so.

...at least, not without you just going and buying the product on your own and testing it. Which has been done a few times - to laughably awful result.

It's also the reason why Bose forbids retailers from placing their products anywhere near competitor's products...that way you can't make a direct comparison.

Find any qualified audio authority and ask them what they think.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 1:25:28 PM , Rating: 3
http://www.intellexual.net/bose.html

An oldie but a goodie. Just one example of WHY Bose doesn't want qualified people looking at their products. Also, at the bottom of that article is a bunch of links to various places on the internet populated by audiophiles.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 1:47:01 PM , Rating: 2
http://thx.com/products/home/search.html?f=h

...also, notice that no Bose product, ever, has been THX certified. I'm pretty sure they've never bothered trying. When you know you are fail, no point in the attempt.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Manch on 10/1/2009 2:19:47 PM , Rating: 2
I got the quiet comfort headphones for 150$ new at the Lackland BX. THe BX/NEX stores are the only places i ever see them on sale. When you're flying from San Antonio to Misawa Japan on a regular basis those headphones are worth it. I got the virtual surround sound for the PC as a christmas present. My pops picked them up for 185$ at the NEX in Norfolk. Like I said, they're nice but just not at full price.


RE: Thanks God!!
By The0ne on 10/1/2009 2:17:51 PM , Rating: 3
Many people are so bought by the marketing and sales campaign/ads. My co-worker absolutely loves Bose and he's a freaking engineer. He knows better but his brain doesn't want to register.

I don't blame the mass consumers for this fault but rather the company. Of course there are those that should be blame for ignorance by continuing to support something they really don't know about. Apple fans I think might be the biggest. I count MS in there too but then again choices are limited due to applications, support, compatibility.


RE: Thanks God!!
By TechIsGr8 on 10/1/2009 12:37:16 PM , Rating: 5
Certainly off-topic, but I've been a DOS/PC/Windows guy since 1986. I just got my first Apple product a month ago, an iPhone 3GS 32GB, and I absolutely love it. I'm quite happy to be a new brainwashed Apple zombie, thanks very much.


RE: Thanks God!!
By kkwst2 on 10/1/2009 1:33:47 PM , Rating: 1
Well of course you are. You wouldn't be a brainwashed zombie if you weren't happy about it.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Mitch101 on 10/1/2009 2:49:07 PM , Rating: 2
I dont think anyone can deny that the iPhone is a nice piece of kit but the competition is closing in hard and fast and there are very few tricks Apple can implement with as much wow factor as they did when the iPhone launched. But its running out of steam even the Apple fans are starting to say so and if your a smart business you know that an iPhone is a problem waiting to happen. Sure it will get there but it wont happen soon enough. As a consumer device its still a great product holding its own for now.

The Storm 2, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile 6.5 and soon enough Windows Mobile 7. Plus a number of other products are coming. Many like to preach iPhone killer but there have been no real takers. None need to be an iPhone killer but each will take a bit of that iPhone market share away. I wouldn't be surprised if Google is looking to take a bite out of Apple too. Apple is not making many business friends. Or should I say Apple hasn't learned to swim with the sharks and because Apple hasn't been playing nice the sharks are starting to circle Apple. In the next 6 months your going to see a feeding frenzy.

I would say watch out for the Windows Mobile devices. Mobile phone manufacturers will make it cheaper than Apple will agree to sell devices for and Microsoft will drive the apps people want.

Blackberry software for Mac is not a recognition of Apple growth its a way of keeping Apple out of Blackberry's space. Now that you can get Blackberry for Mac those are people who wont be buying the iPhone. Zune HD for mac would be interesting.


RE: Thanks God!!
By 91TTZ on 10/1/2009 10:37:30 AM , Rating: 2
Incorrect.

Unlike the other brands which were just rebranded Chevy's, Saturn had vehicles unique to the brand. Whereas the other GM cars were made of sheet metal and rusted, Saturns used space frames and had plastic panels which never dented. Even the 1.9L DOHC engine was purely Saturn and not used in other models. Only towards the end when GM gave up on the brand did they go to the typical sheet metal construction and use major parts from other brands.

I had a 1992 SL2 with 235,000 miles on it. The handling was was nimble like an import and didn't have that typical GM "slushy" feel.


RE: Thanks God!!
By sebastianem on 10/1/2009 12:49:20 PM , Rating: 2
You got it. Too many vehicles in the GM portfolio are just re-skinned for the different brands. I feel bad for the folks losing jobs, though.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Hiawa23 on 10/1/2009 10:15:22 AM , Rating: 2
not surprised at all. Sister had one with nothing but problems & you knew if the Penske deal fell through this one was headed to graveyard. RIP, If you can't make em profitable then don't make em at all...


RE: Thanks God!!
By Ratinator on 10/1/2009 11:09:18 AM , Rating: 4
My personal experience with GM as whole says the exact same thing, not just Saturn.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Hiawa23 on 10/1/2009 12:14:11 PM , Rating: 2
My personal experience with GM as whole says the exact same thing, not just Saturn.

I think your response is in response to my if you can't make em profitable then don't make em at all. Well, I hope GM gets it together cause We, America needs GM to get it in gear as they make some pretty good vehicles, & I hope their costs have finally come down or inline with the industry so they can thrive when the market swings back around. I think America needs a profitable GM along with Ford to compete globally. I own a Honda & a Mitsubishi, since I have always liked the foregn vehicles, but the next car I buy I think it will something from GM cause contrary to what many think they now offer pretty amazing vehicles, & cadillac has always stood for quality in my mind.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Manch on 10/1/2009 1:00:42 PM , Rating: 3
If you're going to buy American then go buy a Ford. They didn't take any bail out money and their quality rivals Toyota's. I for one will not buy Government Motors vehicle, ever. Government Motors still can't stop the bleeding, and since the unions own a huge stake that's even more incentive for me not to buy.


RE: Thanks God!!
By 67STANG on 10/2/2009 3:23:11 AM , Rating: 2
People are doing exactly that. Last months sales figures show it. Both GM and Chrysler's sales dropped over 40%. Ford dropped 5%.


RE: Thanks God!!
By BaDaBooM on 10/1/2009 11:52:50 AM , Rating: 2
We love our Saturn Outlook... that is my only experience with Saturn but it was a very positive one. I am sorry to see it go as I viewed Saturn as GM, but better.


RE: Thanks God!!
By FITCamaro on 10/1/2009 12:35:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah three cheers for 13,000 more unemployed!!!

Seriously. Cheering a company failing and people losing their jobs is pure stupidity. I didn't like every company thats gone out of business in this mess (Circuit City) but I didn't look forward to seeing them fail either.


RE: Thanks God!!
By thurston on 10/1/2009 1:07:42 PM , Rating: 2
Are you bi-polar that was an awesome post, I'm very surprised.


RE: Thanks God!!
By FITCamaro on 10/1/09, Rating: 0
RE: Thanks God!!
By thurston on 10/1/2009 4:53:04 PM , Rating: 2
That's more like it, you shouldn't leave your computer logged on, somebody might leave a post while you're away.


RE: Thanks God!!
By The0ne on 10/1/2009 2:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
I can't tell if your comments were sarcasm or not :D but...

I don't like to cheer for what's going on but seriously GM needs to die. They are ALREADY going back to their old ways after being handed tax payer money. Why the hell should they and any of their brands survive only to do the same fcking business/mangement model again?

I was a supporter of the big3 surviving initially but now I say fck them and let them die. They more than well deserve it. To me they are a joke for manufacturing and quality, areas where I excel in.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Reclaimer77 on 10/1/2009 5:02:27 PM , Rating: 1
Don't you get it ? Obama bought GM and fired their CEO so we, the American taxpayer, could keep the union payola going. The same people who got him in the White House. Think about it, the ENTIRE country knows the Unions slowly killed GM, but did the President ONCE even hint that they were a problem ? Hell no.

It's not a conspiracy it's just how politicians, especially from Chicago, work.


RE: Thanks God!!
By Ammohunt on 10/1/2009 3:00:49 PM , Rating: 1
Union jobs; its karma


RE: Thanks God!!
By Jalek on 10/1/2009 8:56:42 PM , Rating: 2
Initially at least, Saturn had a different union contract system more in line with the Japanese companies it was competing with.

In recent years, GM's been taking everything that made Saturn different away, which might have included labor contracts.


RE: Thanks God!!
By 67STANG on 10/2/2009 3:24:35 AM , Rating: 2
The 13,000 out of work employees could always find a job at Blockbuster. I hear they're hiring...


RE: Thanks God!!
By Yawgm0th on 10/1/2009 1:58:08 PM , Rating: 3
My experience has been pretty different. My parents and several of my uncles and aunts together have owned five Saturns, including three Vues. They're all been pretty pleased, with relatively few problems. One of the Vues is nearing 200,000 miles now. One of them has whatever Saturn's 90s eco compact sedan was, and it's got around 200,000 miles and has been pretty reliable to date.

My own 2007 Ion has been wonderful. I've put 60,000 miles on it, averaging 28-31MPG pretty consistently at differing highway/city mile distribution. I haven't had any real problems, and it's actually about the most enjoyable eco compact you'll drive. It's got great turning, pretty good handling for such a small car (important when I'm driving on six inches of snow and they haven't plowed yet), and it actually accelerates pretty respectably.

A friend just bought an Ion with 150,000 miles and he seems pretty happy with it.

The problem with Saturns, IMO, is the price. I wouldn't go as far as the Mac analogy (that's reserved for Volkswagen), but you do pay a premium for a brand name. At $19,000 and change, my Ion sure feels like a $16,000 car.

Oh well. RIP, Saturn. I wasn't going to buy a government car anyway, so Ford might be my next choice.


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