GM: "Currency Shift Stalled Astra"

gm currency shift stalled astra

We’ve got to love Bob Lutz and his unabashed capacity to be wrong. In today’s Automotive News, he reports that “The Saturn Astra costs too much for U.S. customers, and sales and profitability of the small hatchback are suffering.” There is no question that sales have been anemic (between 1500 and 2000 cars per month) and that profitability for the Astra was always questionable at best. Or worse. Lutz went on to tell AN that “the profit is no longer there.” None of this has been in contention. But what is blindingly daft is GM’s explanation: the Astra costs too much for American consumers, at $16,495. Before we break out the slide rules and figure that the Civic starts in the mid $15,000s and the Mazda3 sedan starts just a hair under $15,000, keep in mind the comparable levels of equipment we’re talking about here. The Astra comes standard with loads of kit that you’d have to pay thousands more for in options. Many people don’t look at that when they are trying to buy the cheapest new car they can. But many people do want options on their Mazda3, or Corolla or Civic. And for those people, the Astra is not too expensive. The culprit from this writer’s mental CSI lab? First, zero advertising for the Astra. It’s not a legacy nameplate (i.e. Corolla or Civic) so they can’t just expect people to know it’s out there. Second, the mileage is a few pegs off from the class leaders: compare a 24/30 Astra to a 25/36 Civic. I don’t care, but lots of other people do. Third and finally, the Astra is hatchback only. I love hatchbacks. You might love hatchbacks. But Nissan was smart enough to realize that Americans are only warming up to hatchbacks; that’s why the ass-ugly Versa sedan outsells the more pleasant Versa hatch. Bottom line: the Astra (a truly decent car) is headed to the enthusiast’s scrap heap. There it can join other high-potential, half-executed Lutz ideas like the Merkur xr4ti, Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky, Pontiac GTO, and Pontiac G8. At least they’re all cheap to buy used.

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  • Design89 Design89 on Sep 09, 2008

    JuniorMint, Yes, well said. You will enjoy it's uniqueness for thousands less. I got the silver sand color, apparently hard to get. Enjoy!

  • Jplew138 Jplew138 on Sep 22, 2008

    Ah, whither GM...they FINALLY get a decent small car over here...and they proceed to kill it with absolutely NO advertising. I drove an Astra...and found myself liking it except for the just adequate power (needs about 15-20 more HP) and the...ummm...curiously styled interior, although that in itself isn't a deal breaker. Why is there no ad play for this car...a car that totally puts the Focus on the trailer, and handles and rides better than the Civic??? Just another example of GM and Mr. Lutz's chronic half-assedness...

  • SPPPP I got a kick out of the three paragraphs beginning with "As a reminder..." and ending with "straight(ish) line". In no small part because they showed up twice in the article. As I scrolled past the next picture, I was gleefully excited to see if they would show up a third time. But no, the rest of the article continued as normal. Competent though it was, the magic was gone.
  • SPPPP Just an observation - at $1.66 billion for a target 1,800 buses, that's $922,222.22 per bus. I know they will need chargers, but still ... doesn't that seem pretty un-ambitious? Couldn't they put more than 20,000 Ford E-transit electric vans on the streets for the same price?
  • Kosmo The power figures for the 3.0 diesel are impressive, especially compared to the 3.0 diesel in our 2007 Sprinter.(Ralph Nader enters room) How do those STEEL bumpers affect crash safety?
  • Kosmo Magnum Wagon reboot would be the schizzle!
  • Redapple2 Guys. 80 K? Who buys these? I mean professionals- Doctors Lawyers, Engineers, Coder beta boy whatever, have the money but dont buy the cave man, bro dozer. The red necks that want them make peanuts. So>? Redneck contractors buy them? Those that can write it off thru the business (and burn company gas)