Saturn Spins Spin-Off: "Informal Inquiries"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
saturn spins spin off informal inquiries

The Detroit News is reporting that Presidential Task Force on Automobiles (PTFOA) is ready to float some trial balloons—I mean, announce part of its master plan for “saving” the U.S. auto industry. The News reckons the PTFOA will place the cart before the horse, revealing its bailout strategy for the domestics’ suppliers sometime this week. Then they’ll unveil the new new bailout arrangement to fund GM’s new new new new new new new turnaround plan and, believe it or not, Chrysler’s mythological recovery strategy. Meanwhile, Saturn’s keepers are busy pre-stretching the limits of credibility.

Speaking to Automotive News [sub], Steve Girsky, “long-time industry consultant leading GM’s task force” (so many task forces, so few tens of billions), claimed he’d had informal talk (casual dress Friday?) with competitors interested in acquiring Saturn’s brand/dealer network. Girsky declined to name which automakers have talked to the group.

If that doesn’t smell to high heaven, how about the plan Girsky outlined for the all-too-credible news org.

The spin-off would offer car manufacturers an opportunity to build vehicles in under-used GM assembly plants or provide a ready-made U.S. distribution network for their products, Girsky said.

The spin-off could count on Saturn’s current vehicle lineup through 2011, Girsky said. Ideally, the new company would want to begin bringing in additional product from GM or others before that time, he said.

They would all sell under the Saturn brand. To keep a family resemblance for vehicles possibly coming from a variety of automakers, the new company could have light design capability, he said.

Here’s the kicker:

Several carmakers already market vehicles made by competitors, Girsky said. Chrysler LLC, for example, is making Volkswagen AG’s Routan minivan.

When your plan for a brand’s salvation is modeled after a single product that fell flat on its face in the marketplace, disgracing all concerned, you might as well close up shop and go home. Well, if it weren’t for that big, fat, taxpayer-funded consultancy fee.

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  • Windswords Windswords on Mar 18, 2009

    KatiePuckrik: "I still reckon that GM would have been better off, packaging Vauxhall/Opel, Saturn and SAAB (complete with intellectual property) as one unit and selling it off." YOu know I have been mulling this over in my tiny brain about what should be done about GM and this morning I remembererd that at one time in GM's history they were in danger of being broken up because they controlled so much of the market. Then I realized that today the problem is the opposite. They are too big for the market share they have. But the solution is the same. Break them up into smaller pieces. How about Caddy/Chevy, Buick/Pontiac/GMC, and Opel/Saturn/Saab/Holden. For a period of years they would use the current platforms they have and even share factories. Then as model cycles progress they would become more independent. This would give younger managers the opportunity to shine. There can't be that many deadbeat managers to infect all four new companies. Each company would have to, after a predetermined time, sink or swim on their own merits. Some of them WILL fail. But two or more will be successful and some part of GM will survive. The only thing I can't figure out is how to separate GMC and Chevy trucks.

  • Geo. Levecque Geo. Levecque on Mar 19, 2009

    The main reason that Chrysler sales here in Canada are up over the other Detroit three is that they have given large rebates to purchasers, some people never consider what brand they buy, as long as it runs, they could care less and are not thinking of long term reliability either. General Motors actually raised there Prices here this year and they keep pushing the Korean built Aveo and Wave as "great cars" Its a crazy world we all live in isn't it?

  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )
  • Thehyundaigarage Yes, Canadian market vehicles have had immobilizers mandated by transport Canada since around 2001.In the US market, some key start Toyotas and Nissans still don’t have immobilizers. The US doesn’t mandate immobilizers or daytime running lights, but they mandate TPMS, yet canada mandates both, but couldn’t care less about TPMS. You’d think we’d have universal standards in North America.
  • Alan I think this vehicle is aimed more at the dedicated offroad traveller. It costs around the same a 300 Series, so its quite an investment. It would be a waste to own as a daily driver, unless you want to be seen in a 'wank' vehicle like many Wrangler and Can Hardly Davidson types.The diesel would be the choice for off roading as its quite torquey down low and would return far superior mileage than a petrol vehicle.I would think this is more reliable than the Land Rovers, BMW make good engines.
  • Lorenzo I'll go with Stellantis. Last into the folly, first to bail out. Their European business won't fly with the German market being squeezed on electricity. Anybody can see the loss of Russian natural gas and closing their nuclear plants means high cost electricity. They're now buying electrons from French nuclear plants, as are the British after shutting down their coal industry. As for the American market, the American grid isn't in great shape either, but the US has shale oil and natural gas. Stellantis has profits from ICE Ram trucks and Jeeps, and they won't give that up.
  • Inside Looking Out Chinese will take over EV market and Tesla will become the richest and largest car company in the world. Forget about Japanese.