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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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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.


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