By on March 5, 2009

Saturn spokesman Steve Janisse must rue the day Automotive News [AN, sub] picked-up the phone. Hey, Steve! Wassup with the whole selling the brand thing? How’s that going anyway? “There is interest from investors in doing a spinoff, and there are other entities interested in just buying it.” So far, so spinmeisterly. And then, the gotcha (sans quotes) “He said he does not know whether the interested parties are other automakers.” So, are we to believe that GM’s got buyers for Saturn but doesn’t want to tell Janisse? I don’t think so. Anyway, AN reveals that GM’s spending lots of taxpayer money to hire someone to find a mark willing to rethink the idea of losing billions of dollars in the car biz. “GM has hired Steve Girsky, formerly senior auto analyst for Morgan Stanley, to help advise on any possible Saturn deals … ‘He has extensive knowledge of the financial side of the equation and so he’s helping evaluate the different options,’ Janisse said. ‘But he’s also there to build the business plans for the options.’” Good luck with that.

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15 Comments on “Saturn Has A “Few” Possible Buyers. Or Not....”


  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Look, there is twice the capacity of auto production in the world than needed. In this scenario, capitalism says that the weakest shall have to die and the capital tied up with those manufacturers will be routed to where it will be put to better use. What about this equation is difficult to understand? I’ll tell you, it all sounds so plausible until someones icon is going to be sacrificed on the capitalist altar. Think of how many smaller car companies were sacrificed so that GM could become stronger in the twentieth century. Who will weep for: packard, studebaker, american motors, hudson, kaiser, etc. Why is this so different now? Is saturn any stronger than one of the above mentioned former car companies at the present time? In fact, is GM much stronger than saturn hummer, and saab, which happen to be the first logs on the fire?

  • avatar
    Rusty Brinkley

    At least Saturn is on a bit better version of life support…

    If they can rebuild the brand into something of what it was when the brand started, and not just the Opel-in-the-US reseller it is now.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Calling “bullshit”.

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    I think the spinoff thing is crap. But I wouldn’t dismiss the interest buyer(s) stuff.

    A purchase of Saturn would allow Fiat to avoid the clusterfuck that is Chrysler and set up their own, instant, dealer network in the U.S. I’m sure GM still has the red ass over the beating they took from Fiat several years ago, but GM needs money. Now.

    I’m sure Geely, Tata, and probably others, think the purchase of Saturn would be a nice way to enter the U.S. market.

  • avatar

    Detroit Todd

    Fiat is on the ropes. They ain’t buyin’ nothin’.

    The Chinese aren’t stupid. IF they buy anything American, they will do it post-C11 for pennies on the dollar.

    Saturn is dead.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Carmax has likely made over a hundred million dollars on their trade-in’s over the last several years. They offer a very good presentation and sometimes their price will be better than new car dealers. Although private parties will typically pay far more and in my experiences, independent dealers will often offer to beat the Carmax price by a certain amount.

    A few personal examples…

    Last year a lady wanted to buy a 2002 Volvo XC70 from me with 110,000 miles. She had a 2008 Honda Fit Sport with 11,000 miles on it. Carmax appraised it at $11,500, I offered her $12,900, she got the Volvo for $8900 and I gave her a $4000 difference. I later sold the Fit for $15,000.

    A lady needed a minivan and had her 1998 Red Mustang GT with 110k appraised at Carmax for $2500. That happened to be the same price I was selling a 1994 Chevy Lumina APV with 75k. We ended up doing a straight swap.

    Dealers will almost always try to underprice trade-in’s relative to a private party because…

    A) They are in the re-sale business

    B) Consumers will frequently pay far more attention to the price of the vehicle they’re buying than the one they’re selling.

    Dealers are traders, buyers are keepers. Carmax happens to be an exceptional ‘trader’ of used cars. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they made more money in the trade-in side of the business these days than the retail side.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Count me among the “few” possible Saturn buyers. I’ll give GM ten bucks for it, take it or leave it.

    Seriously though, nice analysis Jerry. The buggy whip manufacturers and Pony Express riders are still waiting for their bailout.

  • avatar
    DrX

    “But he’s also there to build the business plans for the options and to collect a large taxpayer-funded paycheck.”

    Edited for truth.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    That’s just going to fuel the fanatics and loons on the fan sites into thinking Saturn will emerge from it’s GM tormenters a stronger, full line, independent company.

    Stopitstopitstopit!!! GD GM, just end this charade already. No one is buying anything except for time to do business as usual with government hand outs. This goes beyond ridiculous.

    Let it die already.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Dweez, thank you for doubling down on the nobody buys anything right now. The last real purchase was Jag, which was sold to Tata by Ford before the crash. The chrysler deal with fiat is a sham to keep the govt. money flowing. Any Saturn deal will be a similar no cash but “we are prepared to go foreward if we get additional guarentees from the US govt”. Without an artificial bailout courtesy us the taxpayers, Saturn is already dead and rotting without having a burial yet.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Jerry Weber:what you said was inarguable, that’s for sure. The frustration of watching this farce is getting to me and I had to post even though it was redundant, really. This company is burning down around their ears and they still have money to pay bullshit artists and “business model” consultants ? They need to go straight to C7 if that’s the best they can come up with.

    This is all show biz for the dealers to be able to sell what cars they can till the build out of the last products. The public isn’t stupid and my 05 Saturn ION is my last GM car. Eff em.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    As is obvious from Europe, there is no such thing as a deal right now that isn’t government financed, one way or the other. So the US taxpayers are buying Saturn, like the Germans are buying Opel and the Swedish Saab and Volvo. There is just no other source of funds.

    And another thing – if any non-Asian (Chinese or Indian, specifically) company bought Saturn there is no chance they will keep the brand. Fiat will not sell their cars as Saturns in the US. If Opel/Saab team up and buy (or get as part of an Opel spin-off deal) the dealer network they will not be “Saturns”. And even if a Chinese company did keep the name (after all, nobody is going to buy a BFD or Bu Yah or whatever), you are now servicing GM Saturns and Chinese Saturns in the same shop, with completely incompatible parts and totally separate supply chains? Jeesh.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    see ya Saturn. they never turned out to be that different car company anyhow. i never saw the value in buying a car with GM mechanicals and a plastic body at straight up sticker price just because the dealership personnel were a little nicer. GM needs to dump brands to survive, and who cares if they have a buyer? some of their methods of doing it seem a little, er, strange, like telling Saab and Opel that they’re on their own now (that’s pretty damn funny… shitty, but funny). Hummer, Saab, GMC, Saturn, and possibly Pontiac all need to head off into the sunset, with or without new homes. GM needs to do what’s best for the future, and Saturn isn’t getting the play they need to get in order to be viable for the future. so, uh, sorry Saturn. pack up your crap and get the hell out.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    We have had five Saturns. We still have two of them. We live in a small city without a Carmax. Saturn is the best we have regarding dealers. I’d consider Saturn again without hesitation.

    If Saturn goes independant, and offers good cars, we’d buy them.

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    Mr. Farago

    Fiat ain’t on the ropes. The Italian government will take the hit in Europe and Fiat will take the money they make in Brazil and elsewhere and do as they damn well please.

    Them the facts.


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