Saturn to Save GM?
According to Automotive News [sub], Saturn's looking for a “slight” increase in ’08 sales. Speaking at its dealers party like it's 1999 confab in the City by the Bay, execs predicted the uptick will come from the Aura, [s]Opel [/s]Astra and the Outlook. Just in case those cars don't fly off the lots, Saturn execs will put “conquest incentive cash” on the Astra’s hood (for non-Saturn trade-ins). Maybe. In certain markets. Later this year, Saturn will launch the Two Mode hybrid Vue. Beyond that… Saturn suits told dealers that GM expects its growth over the next five years to come from its Rethink division, helped along by a shift away from trucks. John Pitre, the GM of Motor City Auto Center in Bakersfield, CA is stoked. He says his average Saturn transaction prices have gone from $17k in ’06, to $21.5k in ’07. "Our Saturn store remodel will be done in July, so that's a sign that we're very bullish on the brand." Meanwhile, the bears are waking-up out of hibernation.
Salhany: I did the exact same thing, buying a 2000 Intrigue in 2002 for 9 grand (from a local Buick dealer who sells 1000's of ex-rental cars a year). What killed Olds, IMO, and is killing Buick, is GM dumping long established model names (Cutlass, LeSabre), and replacing them with (awful, in most cases) new names. The Elmer Fudds that bought most of the Olds' and now Buicks walk into showrooms, don't see their favorites, and walk out. The Intrigue name, for example...IMO, was just awful. And what the hell is/was an Alero? GM = Clueless. If I remember the production figures correctly, the last year Buick offered the LeSabre & Park Avenue, they sold roughly 350,000 units. How many first year Lucerne's did they sell? Roughly a third of those figures. or was it a fourth...I forget. Two weeks ago, I bought a 2008 Saturn Vue for a very good price. At first, when I made an offer, the dealer said no. Then, after pointing out the build date of September 2007 on the Certification Label, the dealer thought it over...and so...the VUE is in my garage. It took many hours, and 3 clay bars to remove months of built up pollution. The dealer must have had at least 40 others in stock. Running my hand over the finish told me they had all sat there a while. The homely L Series was an Opel under the skin, and I thought I read somewhere that the Aura is too.
Dunno what it means, but the local (Palm Springs, CA) Saturn store in the Cathedral City Auto Plaza closed about 4 months ago. So far, no other dealer has re-opened at that location.
The Saturn Dealer in Palm Springs wasn't the only local Saturn dealer to fail. Saturn of Alhambra and another local Saturn dealer whose name escapes me closed recently. Ford still leads the parade with shuttered dealerships locally. Withing two months and 5 miles in either direction of my home, Ford closed two dealerships, the latest one on 1/31/08. That particular dealership had been in business since the 1920's. One possible reason for this mom & pop dealers downfall, the worlds largest Toyota dealer is minutes away. Within the last year, I believe Ford has shuttered at least 12 local LA and Orange County Ford dealerships.
For years, Saturn had a crystal clear brand image. It was the helpful, no-haggle, customer-comes-first brand. GM had a good thing going when Saturn first came about. They fucked it all up now and it's too late to do anything. Somebody please pull the plug.