NewsTalk

Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Can Saturn be saved?

February 18, 2009
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As just about everyone expected, General Motors and Chrysler are back asking for more bailouts. Instead of $17.4 billion, they now want $39 billion.

As part of its turnaround plan, GM plans to jettison Saturn, the brand launched in 1985 as a quirky import fighter.

After a successful launch, Saturn was absorbed into the mother ship and had most of the life squeezed out of it. About all thatâ??s left of the original concept is the no-haggle policy.

This pains David Blaskiewicz, who manages new- and used-car sales at Saturn of Fishers. Blaskiewicz was on the ground floor when some of the first models rolled off the assembly line in 1990.

Saturn dealers, maybe with help from outside investors, should buy the brand from GM and develop a solid market identity, he says. The brand should specialize in alternative fuels and offer enough pizzazz to continue attracting buyers who tend to be wealthier and better educated than average.

If GM severs all ties to Saturn, the stand-alone would need to scramble to find another companyâ??s vehicles to sell. Thatâ??s because existing Saturn vehicles are sold by GM under other brands. The Outlook crossover is similar to a Chevrolet Traverse, for example.

If Saturn could rebadge another companyâ??s vehicles for a few years until it could design and build its own from scratch, Saturn could survive, Blaskiewicz believes. He envisions a future when the old slogan, â??A different kind of car. A different kind of car companyâ?? rings true again.

What do you think? Should Saturn be saved, and if so, what should it look like?
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