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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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No Plan B
By Ristogod on 10/1/2009 9:30:27 AM , Rating: 5
I love how they mention they are surprised there was no plan B. Why is this surprising? This is why the company was in such poor shape in the first place. There's never a plan B. GM is ran by failures of the corporate world and should have been left to bankrupt and disband, and it's assets could have been absorbed by entrepreneurs and savvy business people. Instead the government takes over, who are even less competent to run an automotive business, and they wonder why there was no plan B?




RE: No Plan B
By Bateluer on 10/1/09, Rating: -1
RE: No Plan B
By Chaser on 10/1/2009 10:05:31 AM , Rating: 5
But "Government Motors" hasn't gone unnoticed by the consumer public. Ford sales are up and doing significantly well since the taxpayers bailed out GM including their union pensions and healthcare benefits.

An engineer friend of mine that works at KTP, the Kentucky truck Plant where they make F150s said that the surge in sales is partly due to retaliation buys against GM.

Personally as far as I am concerned GM is "off my list".


RE: No Plan B
By Iaiken on 10/1/09, Rating: 0
RE: No Plan B
By FITCamaro on 10/1/2009 12:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
Or go into normal bankruptcy protection, throw off its union contracts and health care obligations, and resurge as a stronger company on its own. Not to mention NOT screw over all the private investors who were given the shaft in the government's takeover of the company while giving the unions a sweet deal and control of the company. The same union which caused many of GM's problems to begin with.


RE: No Plan B
By Reclaimer77 on 10/1/2009 3:50:02 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Or go into normal bankruptcy protection, throw off its union contracts ...


The same people who helped put him in the White House ? Fat chance on that...


RE: No Plan B
By Samus on 10/1/2009 5:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
Ironically, I'd never considered buying any of GM's crap until recently, because they (in my opinion) never made a quality vehicle between 1975-2005. Sure, there was some 'good' ones in there, but you'd be crazy to consider them when stacked against the competition.

I mean seriously, what would you rather drive, a Saturn coupe or an Escort GT? A GM Sierra or a Ford F150? A Cadillac DeVille or a Lincoln Towncar? A Chevy Camero or a Ford Mustang?

I might add that ALL of the above Fords were THOUSANDS less expensive than their GM competator and, again, in my opinion, all better vehicles than GM's offerings.

The only depressing thing now about GM is that they're STILL around and STILL costing tax payers money.


RE: No Plan B
By Jalek on 10/1/2009 9:06:51 PM , Rating: 2
When they were first threatening bankruptcy, I checked out their product lines. The only one I was considering was a Saturn, but I won't be buying a dead brand, even if it's warranty is still backed by taxpayer money. I still have an old Saturn my relatives borrow regularly, it keeps running in spite of irregular maintenance.

Ford's been bleeding for years, they'd managed to survive even with the union burden. They, like Wells Fargo in banking, were taking the losses that come in business at times and dealing with them like capitalists.

Banks that can't handle risk/reward equations don't deserve to be in business, nor does a corporation that manufactures things nobody wants and flies to Congress for help instead of figuring out how to correct the marketability of their products.

I wonder who's paying the GM lobbyists and providing the "campaign donation" money now, Congress?


RE: No Plan B
By christojojo on 10/1/2009 4:04:51 PM , Rating: 3
Having worked there in a non union position I can easily say that yes the "Union" caused problems for the company. I actually witnessed the problems to be more of weak and enabling upper management in the first place. I had the glorious position of a security guard while finishing Grad school. A few employees would steal something and get caught and lower management would fire them. Then somehow these thieves would get their jobs back and the manager that backed us up would be fired and sometimes the security would too.

I really blame the upper management for letting that stuff get out of hand and a few players just punch in and leave for the bars. IF management wanted GM to succeed then they would have stood up to the Union and say NO. Yes the fear of strikes, yadda, yadda, yadda... but every contract has rules for removal and every case could be done so it follows it and cover managements' hind end.

The bottom line is that upper management didn't want to shake the boat and therefore destroyed a great brand. I really do hate the way unions are picked on like they are a cause of all the problems. Yes they can cause problems but ultimately the ones in charge are the ones that allow it.


RE: No Plan B
By MonkeyPaw on 10/1/2009 5:52:32 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Then somehow these thieves would get their jobs back and the manager that backed us up would be fired and sometimes the security would too.


That's not management's fault entirely. Union contracts are often so restricting for the employer that these guys can get away with virtually anything. I work as a manager where pretty much all of the labor is union, and there aren't too many things that can get a guy fired permanently. I can't tell you how many guys have bombed the random drug test, yet still work. I also can't tell you how many guys make huge mistakes and not even get suspended for a day. Punishments are limited. It makes you wonder why a company would ever have negotiated with a union in the first place. I have to think that the reason is that things weren't like this when it started, but over the years, strikes and concessions have made the workplace an unhappy, unproductive place where no one shows any initiative.

The irony is that around every election time, the union "encourages" members to vote Democrat. Now the Dems are set to ram a largely partisan health care plan at us, one that is set to tax high-benefit insurance policy holders. Guess who has those? Union employees! Should it pass, that will be a major blow to the union-democrat relationship.


RE: No Plan B
By christojojo on 10/1/2009 9:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah The union that I used to belong to send me these emails telling me how it is making competition by forcing a high tax health plan on us. Yeah I know the rhetoric says it will be low cost but this is the government. Nothing stays low cost and nothing stays the way it was. NYS where I live they had one of the "world's best psychological care systems in the world" was shut down they sent some to group home; the rest they let loose on an unsuspecting society. Those release instantly cured patients once in a while throw people into the paths of subways, kill for no reason. But they they are cured right?

I just see the same happening to the health system. Government should regulate and police not ration and take over private concerns. I am for public ownership of prisons but do you really want your children treated the government?


RE: No Plan B
By Zingam on 10/1/2009 7:18:06 PM , Rating: 2
Are Unions Mafia?


RE: No Plan B
By Reclaimer77 on 10/1/09, Rating: 0
RE: No Plan B
By 67STANG on 10/1/2009 2:01:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...it basically assures that your tax dollars are going to go to waste

Actually, GM already assured they are going to waste by building garbage.

We're talking about a car company that has already done a recall on the new Camaro. We're also talking about a company that had a working electric car in 1996, but takes forever to get a plug-in hybrid to the market (even then it will be a $40,000 Cobalt).

Aside from the Corvette, I'm not sure anything that GM makes is remotely appealing to me.


RE: No Plan B
By Iaiken on 10/1/2009 3:23:53 PM , Rating: 3
The recall on the new Camaro was a way more minor than you are making it out to be.

They were all simple and proactive fixes that could be done while you waited at the dealer and extend the life of the parts involved (mounting point of the spoiler, rad hose, worn power cable causing starter issues).

Silly problems to have? Maybe... Dangerous? Certainly not...


RE: No Plan B
By 67STANG on 10/1/2009 7:52:56 PM , Rating: 2
You're right. Dangerous problems are like what's on the new Camaro SS (that they stopped shipping btw) because transmission failures. Of course, after that, you still have to worry about the IRS breaking (after the interior falls apart).

Read comments from actual owners: http://www.camaro5.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=7...


RE: No Plan B
By Reclaimer77 on 10/1/2009 8:11:47 PM , Rating: 4
"Camaro" has been an acronym for "shitpile" for decades. Not sure why you guys are debating it.


RE: No Plan B
By Spuke on 10/1/09, Rating: 0
RE: No Plan B
By Oregonian2 on 10/1/2009 5:13:47 PM , Rating: 2
Of course not. The Japanese makers can do no wrong. Everybody knows that!


RE: No Plan B
By Shining Arcanine on 10/3/2009 10:27:57 PM , Rating: 2
Japanese car manufacturers can do quite a bit of wrong, but no matter how bad what they do is, it is insignificant in comparison to the behavior of American car companies. They produce garbage and they treat you like garbage. We would be better off if they would simply cease to exist and everyone went and brought Japanese cars. Having no automobile industry is preferable to having an automobile industry like the one in Detroit.

If I was in charge of things in Washington, I would have forced these companies into insolvency a long time ago. The fact that they make garbage is hurting the US, both in terms of our reliance on foreign oil and in terms of our reputation. Go overseas and I am sure you will hear about the garbage we make in the US. People in other countries have every right to talk about the garbage we Americans make, because we keep making it and the federal government has resorted to doing everything in its power to keep the unproductive companies producing endless mounds of garbage afloat. Forcing them into insolvency is a matter of patriotism at this point.


RE: No Plan B
By Oregonian2 on 10/4/2009 4:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Japanese car manufacturers can do quite a bit of wrong, but no matter how bad what they do is, it is insignificant in comparison to the behavior of American car companies. They produce garbage and they treat you like garbage.


I think you prove my point in that the Japanese are assumed comparatively perfect no matter what -- something that the US mfgrs once had a good long while ago. So with those expectations, proof is self fulfilling.

We've a Honda and a Chrysler. Both dealers were owned by the same guy and our treatment by both dealers/companies were pretty much identical as far as I can tell.

Of course, nowadays, Japanese cars are as likely made in USA as are Detroit company cars. :-) :-)


RE: No Plan B
By 67STANG on 10/1/2009 7:53:46 PM , Rating: 3
My bad. I didn't know Saturn was owned by Toyota.


RE: No Plan B
By Manch on 10/1/2009 8:02:36 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, the damn floor mats. Oh wait I can throw them in the trunk. The camaro on the other hand you need to have towed back to the dealer. That's the same.


RE: No Plan B
By Spuke on 10/2/2009 1:19:38 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Yeah, the damn floor mats. Oh wait I can throw them in the trunk. The camaro on the other hand you need to have towed back to the dealer. That's the same.
Tell that to the family in San Diego that was killed (heard the 911 call RIGHT before it happened) that this recall is not a big deal.

http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/story/Santee-C...

http://kgmb9.com/main/index.php?option=com_content...


RE: No Plan B
By Keeir on 10/2/2009 2:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
No offense, but there should be a way of safey stopping your car in such a situation. Throwing the car into nuetral, Braking until your stopped. Then turning the car off...

Is there a reason this wouldn't work?

However, the underlying point that should be made is that all manufactures have recalls and defects on thier products.

For example the 2004 Toyota Prius has 3 recalls. 1 for improperly designed brake lights. One for improper airbag inflation. And my favorite- Loss of steering control of the vehicle due to poorly designed parts in the steering system.

Here is a good place
http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/recalls...

The 2004 Malibu has only 4 recalls. One for an airmarket issue, so 3 recalls. Same as the 2004 Prius.


RE: No Plan B
By Spuke on 10/2/2009 3:22:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
No offense, but there should be a way of safey stopping your car in such a situation. Throwing the car into nuetral, Braking until your stopped. Then turning the car off...
No offense taken. They were driving a Lexus and if you hold down the Start/Stop button for 3 seconds it will turn the car off. They, obviously, didn't know that. You should also be able to put the car in neutral. They didn't know that either apparently. And the brakes still worked but either they didn't press hard enough or weren't able to slow enough to avoid the collision.

It's sad but they weren't powerless. They could've saved themselves. Even turning the wheel, possibly sliding sideways or sideswiping parked cars would've been better than that fate. I mean they had time to call 911 for God's sake. That's time they could've used to figure out how to survive. People need to realize that the brakes are not the only thing you can use to avoid an accident.


RE: No Plan B
By Manch on 10/3/2009 2:10:10 AM , Rating: 2
From your link:

quote:
Preliminary evidence suggests that the wrong model of all-weather rubber mat caused California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor to lose control of a 2009 Lexus ES 350 -- part of Toyota's luxury vehicle line -- on State Route 125 last month.


Toyota is merely taking precautions because of the potential that this could be an issue. 6 years and the first time it becomes an issue is because it the WRONG FLOOR MAT!!

Again, not the same.

The question that should be asked is why the dealership installed the wrong ones in the vehicle. Last time I bought some all weather cut to fit floor mats the instructions said to make sure it does not interfere with the safe operation of the brake and gas pedals. The issue here isn't Toyotas floor mats it's the fact that the wrong ones were put in.


RE: No Plan B
By johnsonx on 10/3/2009 5:20:54 PM , Rating: 2
It's very sad, but you can't blame Toyota or even the floor mat (which was the incorrect model for the car). That family died because of the driver's stupidity and panic. You'd think a CHP officer would keep a cooler head.


RE: No Plan B
By johnsonx on 10/3/2009 5:29:55 PM , Rating: 2
ok, I take part of that back. The situation doesn't exactly make sense, stopping the vehicle should not have been difficult regardless of whether the accelerator was stuck, but I have no way to know whether the driver acted stupidly or panicked. Perhaps there is more to the situation than is immediately apparent.


RE: No Plan B
By Spuke on 10/1/2009 3:45:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We're also talking about a company that had a working electric car in 1996, but takes forever to get a plug-in hybrid to the market (even then it will be a $40,000 Cobalt).
Because the Volt and the EV1 have SOOO much in common. :rollseyes: And I didn't know that GM had released the final interior spec on the Volt. Care to post a link?


RE: No Plan B
By 67STANG on 10/1/2009 8:16:20 PM , Rating: 4
So you can understand:

The EV1 was advanced for it's time-- and GM had a working fleet of them.

The Volt is not advanced for it's time (there's tons of gasoline/electric vehicles on the road already)-- and GM can't get one out the door.

The interior of the Volt, while pretty much finalized (you can see images everywhere on the net) has not been confirmed to be done. You can bet it will be 100% plastic, however. What is confirmed is the exterior-- an exterior that looks like a Cobalt, only more retarded. (It will even use the Cobalt chassis.)

Bottom line is that when they can finally make them, they will have a hard time selling them. Gas is lower, jobless rates are higher and not many people want to drive a $40,000 car that looks like it costs $19,000. Even China will have a plug-in hybrid (BYD) to market before GM-- for only $21,000.


RE: No Plan B
By Spuke on 10/2/2009 1:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Volt is not advanced for it's time (there's tons of gasoline/electric vehicles on the road already)-- and GM can't get one out the door.
So YOU can understand:

The Volt is a SERIAL hybrid (for the 1 billionth time). There are exactly NO serial hybrids on the road. There are NO plug in serial hybrids on the road. And lastly, there are NO hybrids on the road that use lithium ion batteries. How is that not advanced? Because you say it isn't?

quote:
The interior of the Volt, while pretty much finalized (you can see images everywhere on the net) has not been confirmed to be done.
For the last time, post a link to a GM executive that says that the Volt's interior is final and completed and ready for production. I want to see FACTS! I could less about how you FEEL this will be.

Bottom line is that without actual evidence, what you believe is not fact and your feelings are not reality.


RE: No Plan B
By Alexvrb on 10/2/2009 11:06:50 PM , Rating: 2
The "cobalt chassis" is the delta platform. Nothing wrong with it, by any stretch of the imagination. That's like knocking an Infiniti for sharing a platform with a Nissan. You think there won't be any differences, because it shares a platform? Look at the variety of W-body cars. They're hardly all equal. But you wouldn't know anything about that, anyway.

As for the EV1, it had serious limitations that made it completely unviable, and they lost money on it left and right. Heck it wasn't even that advanced, it was based on "Impact", and it used lead acid batteries until later in its life. Gen II didn't even come out until '99, and even then the first Gen II models used lead acid still. It was a little crapbox, I don't know why anyone thinks it was anything special.

You know why GM built it? CARB literally *forced* them to build a zero-emissions vehicle, and since they already had Impact, they based it on that (rather than doing what the other major manufacturers did and retrofit an existing vehicle, usually a truck or SUV). They tried like hell, but full EVs just weren't ready for prime time. Perhaps they should have started working on a serial hybrid sooner.


RE: No Plan B
By Iaiken on 10/1/2009 4:41:29 PM , Rating: 2
Present an accurate account of your perception and interest on the situation?

That's a downrate...


RE: No Plan B
By Keeir on 10/1/2009 7:12:19 PM , Rating: 3
At work here is that

More than 60% of US citizens did not want to Auto companies to be bailed out.

In response to the government doing it anyway, a significant fraction of that 60% will not purchase any car produced by something they disagree with... its really one of the few ways to communicate with the government in between times of election.

I agree, its like cutting off your nose to spite your face, but fundamentally not sure why the government should expect popular support when they do unpopular things.


RE: No Plan B
By Reclaimer77 on 10/1/2009 3:47:15 PM , Rating: 1
Yup Chaser, more power to them. If you buy GM, you are a traitor. Period.


RE: No Plan B
By mydogfarted on 10/1/2009 10:39:35 AM , Rating: 5
It sounds like GM used "Plan B" because they didn't pull out fast enough. ;)


RE: No Plan B
By christojojo on 10/1/2009 5:18:07 PM , Rating: 2
no that would be the morning after pill


RE: No Plan B
By kattanna on 10/1/2009 10:45:10 AM , Rating: 1
couldnt one of the execs had their secretary run down to the local pharmacy, i mean it is available over the counter nowadays, isnt it?


RE: No Plan B
By Reclaimer77 on 10/1/2009 3:19:59 PM , Rating: 4
Is anyone else sick and tired of GM articles every day on Daily Tech ?

Put clearly, GM has the largest R&D funding on the PLANET, courtesy of the United States taxpayer. They do NOT have a turn a profit, they do NOT have to prove solvency, and what they do does NOT matter. They can do whatever they want and it doesn't make a difference, they have a blank check !!! They are no more a company than the Food and Drug administration. Notice there aren't articles on DT every day about the FDA ?

We do not care what GM is doing, and to be blunt, anyone investing in this "company" or buying their products is a traitor to the USA. We have already paid them enough, don't be a dumbass and pay them more and legitimize the theft that was the bailout/takeover of a once proud US company ; a legend.

Stop with the goddamn GM articles!!


RE: No Plan B
By pcfxer on 10/2/2009 7:43:22 AM , Rating: 2
DING! DING!

If only it was up to me to put someone like you in charge of something at GM :)>.


RE: No Plan B
By Alexvrb on 10/2/2009 10:46:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
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."

Penske is the one that backed out. Penske was the one that could not find someone to build cars and supply parts. GM even agreed to produce cars for them for a couple of years. After that, Penske needed someone else to build vehicles. Was Roger Penske planning on shooting cars out of his rear?

What exactly was GM supposed to do? They were commanded to sell Saturn, or scrap them if they couldn't. Scrapping them IS the plan B. It doesn't mean they wanted to do it. If current GM management refused to get rid of Saturn quickly, I'm sure the Car Czar would lop their heads off and find more obedient management.


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