Saturn Sales Still Stink

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
saturn sales still stink

Not that you'd know it from reading Jamie Lareau's lead in Automotive News [sub]: "As General Motors works on its corporate turnaround, a smaller version is under way at its Saturn brand." To use a phrase popular back when Saturn was GM's import fighter (as opposed to its import provider), gag me with a spoon. So how does Lareau justify his faith in Saturn's future? Not very well. "Customers have yet to arrive in a huge numbers. Through March, Saturn's U.S. sales totaled 48,306 units, down 15.3 percent from 2007." Ain't that the truth. Apparently it's not the whole truth; Lareau feels obliged to dredge-up a two-month old quote from GM CEO Rick Wagoner re: Saturn's recovery: 'We knew what we were doing, which is to change the profile of the kinds of products that we sell at Saturn from basically low-priced cars to cars that compete on the basis of being great cars, European influence, et cetera. It's fair to say that's not an easy assignment.'" Et cetera? Anyway, is it also fair to say Saturn's failed, considering the brand's shot its proverbial new product wad and still managed to under-perform a declining U.S. new car market? Of course not. Lareau gives the last word to Saturn's recently-snubbed brand manager Jill Lajdziak. "There's no question we have to continue to build the awareness of our new products. That doesn't happen overnight. You don't just walk into a segment. You have to earn your way into the segment."

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  • CB1000R CB1000R on Apr 22, 2008

    I REALLY wanted to like the Astra. Then I sat in one. Then I looked at the sticker. Then I talked to the least enthusiatic car saleswoman I've ever encountered. Then I picked up a gasket for my SW2. And then, finally, I left and went to test drive a Mazda 3 and Civic si.

  • Geotpf Geotpf on Apr 22, 2008

    The Astra (and ever other new Saturn, other than possibly the redesigned Vue) is a total sales dud. Sales figures so far: Feb 08: 757 Mar 08: 720 Total: 1,477 Toyota sells more Corollas in a day than Saturn sells Astras in a month. Saturn has never made fiscal sense. It didn't make sense when all they sold was Corolla-clones, and it doesn't make sense now they are trying (and failing) to go upscale, especially if they stick with their no-haggle policy and sell stuff that other GM dealers that do haggle sell clones of. It's a giant black hole that sucks up the contents of GM's bank accounts.

  • Geotpf Geotpf on Apr 22, 2008

    David Holzman : Even in the days of selling 300,000 Corolla-clones, Saturn was losing buckets of money. It didn't make fiscal sense to set up an entire dealer network to sell one car, no matter how good the car is (and the original Saturns did compete fairly well with Civics and Corollas of the era). But the problem is that now everybody thinks "Corolla-clone" when they think of Saturn, so they can't add upscale products to the mix, especially if they stick with their no-haggle pricing policy, and if they no longer actually sell a Corolla-clone (the Astra is an overpriced, sporty hatchback, not a fuel-sipping commuter sedan like the original Saturn was).

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Apr 22, 2008

    Welcome to the new GM superstore!!! Kill off the duplicates, sell every GM at every dealer. No need for 5 versions of the same stuff. People, I don't want to buy a car - good or average - froma company that makes dumb decisions, with an out of date business plan, assembled by unhappy workers under a management corp who thinks they can put one over on me. I'd rather buy a quality car from a company that has enthusiastic workers, lean management that represent the best of their breed with a long term plan. The Opel, -er, Saturn Astra remains on my short list until I get to drive one and feel differently about it. I FINALLY saw my first Aura last weekend on the highway and aside from funky curves on the trunk lid I thought it was alot better looking than anything Saturn has ever sold in a four door sedan and even a bit better than the rest of the working guy sedans that GM currently sells. I still might buy us an Astra 3-door and then slap the proper Opel badges on it and make people scratch their heads and ask what the heck is it. Then I'll tell 'em they can buy one today. Except - I'll buy a used Astra if there is such a thing b/c I'm a working guy and can't let go of that much cash. Oh yeah, that's right - economy stinks and I plan to get another 50K miles out of our 150K mile Honda and VW. Hang on Saturn, I'll be with you in about 5 more years.