Saturn Rethinks (Cancels) Side-by-Side-by-Side Comparo Amid Questionable Claims of Victory
CNN Money reports that Saturn's pulled the plug on its "Side-by-Side-by-Side Test Drive." During the promotion, Saturn dealers provided customers with [base model four-cylinder] Accords and Camrys to compare against [well equipped V6] Auras. Saturn marketing manager Matt Armstrong declared the two-month campaign a success, claiming Aura sales increased 24 percent (against a 14 percent drop in midsize cars' sales). In fact, Saturn sold 4,694 Auras in June and 5,827 in July. That's a 19 percent increase. Camry on the other hand, dropped from 46,630 sales in June to 41,514 in July, a 12% decrease. So was Aura responsible for the dent in Camry sales? Uh…. no. Accord sales rose from 28,915 to 37,142 during the same time; a 22 percent increase. In raw numbers, Aura's sales went up 1,133 in July, Camry's decreased 5,116, and Accord's increased by 8,227. No matter how Saturn spins it, the Accord was the big winner during the GM brand's "Side-by-Side-by-Side Test Drive" promotion.
Heh...I called that this would end quickly. I knew that GM would balk at buying 4k Accords / Camrys for each Chevy showroom - plus buying another 4k new Accords in September (or risk keeping the old model in order to trick the customers - those who knew a new Accord was out wound find that underhanded). I said this was a huge mistake for Saturn as it brings the enemy into the showroom and gets Saturn only buyers (those who'd never venture into a Honda or Toyota showroom) to have a good look at the Camcord. GM just doesn't have its act together and cancelling a supposed "successful" campaign when they sold a couple thousand more cars (I wonder if the cost of buying 2k+ Camcords made up for the increase in sales?). GM doesn't sell cars or trucks anymore...they sell special deals and gimmic sales events.
Base Auras have a V6, base Accords have a 4 cylinder. Dollar for dollar, you get more features with the Aura, and it's hardly unfair to demonstrate that. As for the Accord's increase, I doubt it had much to do with the Aura's comparison scheme. Honda has been clearing out 2007 Accords to make way for the new 2008 model. For the record, I drive an Accord. It's more expensive than its GM equivalent, but my last lease of a GM car cost me a couple grand extra in non-warranty brake repairs, so there go the savings.
"Base Auras have a V6, base Accords have a 4 cylinder." Aren't they introducing a 4 cylinder into the Aura, if not now, then soon? I think people will be more impressed by the great mileage of the 4 banger Accord and Camry, rather than the increased power of the Aura. The 4 banger Accord and Camry have more than adequate power anyway.
I can imagine what must have happened 0300 hrs Detroit time..phone rings in Wagoner's bedroom cheery voiced caller on the phone: "Good morning Rick! how are you?" Wagoner: "Huh huh who's calling?" caller: "I'm "Kats"! can't you recognise my voice?" Wagoner through sleep induced fog: "Kats" who?" caller: "Katsuake Watanabe you dolt! i'm your worst nightmare!" Wagoner: "Aagh; dont torture me so much at this time of the night. what do you want now? anything to let me get back to sleep." Watanabe: "Its about this side by side marketing campaign of yours. how about...." Wagoner brightens up; is fully awake: "Ahaa gotcha didn't we! got you sh!tt!ng bricks haven't we?" Watanabe: "Uh? Perish the thought. No one's scared of you. Even those little guys from Fiat kept kicking you in the balls till you promised em 2 billion to stop! remember? we all saw it happen! Any way back to the point. It ain't your Malibu we are worried about. Its the Accord. Do you really want them to add 350,000 sales in 1 year. Once they come into your show room they will not give our Camry a second glance; They will all rush out and buy the hated Accord. Our Camry sales will stagnate at 450,00+ but you my friend won't sell a single Malibu, once they know what the Accord is all about. Do you really want them to become as big as us in just 1 year?" Imagine having 2 of us haunting you at night at the same time! Wagoner: you're right Katsuake san! At least if we follow your way we'll get to sell a few of the Bu's. I'll call Mark right now.. any thing else i can do for you? Good night" And so it came about that the side by side program died even before it was born