The Saturn Contingencies

the saturn contingencies

GM’s “different kind of car company” is furiously trying to forge a future amid plummeting sales and little outside interest in buying the brand. Saturn’s Franchise Operations Team has been meeting with GM executives in hopes of creating some kind of strategy for the brand’s dealer network. According to Automotive News [sub] the options were narrowed down at a meeting last week, and after further refinement they should be presented to Saturn dealers later this week. When asked if this spelled the end for the Saturn name, Franchise Operations Team member Todd Ingersoll told AN “everything is fluid. You can’t commit to any option.” But he also indicates that “you don’t need four options to kill a brand.” So what’s really going on?

As with most GM decisions these days, the critical factor is finding a way forward that will appeal to the federal subsidy masters. Since GM’s viability plan calls for concentration on Chevy, Cadillac, Buick and Pontiac, most Saturn dealers see their fate as sealed. And they say that the perception of Saturn as a dead brand walking is hurting sales. “I’m really surprised we’re still selling the cars we’re selling,” says one Texas Saturn dealer. He notes that customers often express concern over warranty and parts availability issues that could arrise if the brand is axed. This concern is doubtless being fuelled by GM’s decision, reported at Ward’s Auto [sub] to cancel Saturn’s 30-day return policy.

And this compounding effect could radically reduce the chances that Saturn will survive. “We haven’t seen a dramatic difference in their business,” notes GM’s Mark LaNeve. “Obviously, the quicker we can clarify our direction with Saturn in line with the viability plan, the better.” Ultimately though, GM seems to be keeping its options open until the last possible minute. Ingersoll notes that GM’s decision for Saturn may be disclosed within hours of filing the new viability plan on the 17th. Maybe they think a buyer will come along between now and then. After all, self-deluding optimism seems to be quite the popular survival mechanism these days.

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  • ReGZ_93 ReGZ_93 on Feb 10, 2009

    The main reason I bought my Astra was because it was the anti-saturn. I drove an ION back in 20006, and that piece of plastic craptastic truly set new lows in materials and build qualities. I'm still amazed that there were that many people willing to buy something like that. Buy the things they did, at like 20,000 a month. Mind blowing.

  • Michael Curwood Michael Curwood on Feb 10, 2009

    "Today Saturns are just another GM car, nothing special. Too late to change that image" Exactly. There is nothing unique about Saturn and now they have to try and make a name for themselves amoungst already established brands - Last year there was too much competition and this year there's not enough of a market. I spoke to a dealer yesterday and their comment was, "we just want them to make up their minds so we can move forward". Deep down, dealers know whats going to happen.

  • Chris P Bacon I have driven a few Alfa Stelvios, and they are fun on twisty roads. I love the looks, and that there just aren't a lot of them on the road. There was a time where they were leasing very very well, and I considered pulling the trigger on one. But then my local dealer closed, and is turning the building into a Mazda showroom. So my closest dealers are between 85-100 miles away. I've heard Alfa got their quality act together after 2019, and it's mostly common Stellantis parts these days. But since I don't have a local Alfa store to do the repairs, it's been a no go. I like the tonale, and since the Dodge is mostly Tonale, with access to a Dodge dealer for warranty work, I thought I might be interested. Sizewize, this thing falls right between the Compass and Cherokee, so it's not a penalty box. But I think at $30k, Dodge really stole Alfa's price point. It's literally the same car, Alfa could make money at $30k if Dodge can. Alfa might actually be able to attract some new customers if the Tonale was priced here. but at $37k to start for the Tonale, it's gonna sit on Alfa lots looking for a home. The Dodge really should be called the Fugazzi, not the Hornet.
  • Chris Tonn @maintenancecosts stay tuned. An XC90 Recharge arrived this week.
  • ToolGuy Jump ahead to the table labeled "The 20 U.S. newspapers with the highest circulation in 2000, with 2022 print circulation":
  • SCE to AUX Of course it's dead, as are most live meetings any more.Covid was the catalyst that killed off the live meeting paradigm forever. In my office, we now have Teams meetings amongst participants who are all in the building. It's just not worth the trouble to schedule a conference room and hunt people down to see if they can be present.To paraphrase Madonna (with an update), we're living in a virtual world.
  • FreedMike Kudos to Chris for making an uninteresting car interesting to read about.