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?
  • I have had 2 Saturns and they both ran great. Moreover, the service I've received has been terrific. Quality merchandise and quality service are in short enough supply as it is! I hope they can keep it afloat.
  • Yes! Oh, my goodness, yes, Saturn should be saved! I love my current Saturn, which I bought new at Saturn of Fishers, and I loved the used Buick that I bought there several years ago. I loved both experiences of buying cars there, too.

    Car companies can be so clueless about the variety of people who want to buy cars. When I was ready to buy my most recent car, I thought I should try some other places in the name of being a careful shopper. My experiences at non-Saturn places were...laughably bad. Who knew there were so many ways to try to make a single, middle-aged woman feel like an idiot for car-shopping by herself?

    I may have felt like an idiot, but I had the last laugh: I took my money back to Saturn.

    I don't ever want to shop for cars anywhere else.
  • Saturn seems to be the only company doing it right. I like their new styles of cars. I love th Sky, but can't understand why they aren't making them in Hard Tops or Hard Top Convertibles, they will only do convertibles - so they are loosing out majorily to the Solstice.

    Their SUV's are quality as well. I hope they can keep them going - looks like they are getting the AXE though.
  • I'm not in the auto industry but it seems to me that Saturn will die unless the new buyer follows through with the quirky attitude of the original line. Saturn today seems more like Pontiac/Buick/Chevy than Mini or Audi or Smart, which collectively all seem more independent in design and business thinking.

    My mother was a loyal Saturnist for eons and religiously went to the annual Saturn-fest, where she met up with old friends (whom she met at previous events) from across the country. When she finally realized that Saturn had gone corporate, she bought a Toyota.

    One idea would be to follow the European example of licensing big parts from other auto companies. I believe Lotus, for example, gets its engines from Toyota. Saturn could work a transmission deal with Subaru and go all vehicles are all-wheel drive like Subaru did years ago. Perhaps it could also go all-hybrid or all-electric and work an engine deal with GM. Designs can be licensed from Fiat, Renault or a smaller but creative design house.

    That is the kind of thinking that might save it, in my mind.
  • They should just go back to making the original SL2. My last one had 260,000 miles on it and ran great. My current SL2 has 169,000 miles and I'm loving it.
  • Really, what's to save, because all the products are really GM of Europe cars; or just GM (Outlook). I'm sure GM would love someone to buy the brand and factory and then purchase GM product to resell as Saturn's until Saturn could design and build their own cars. But you're talking a massive investment in design and engineering that all resides in Detroit or Europe: resources, technology, etc. Then you've got all the UAW legacy issues to deal with. I can't see how anyone could justify the $billions that would be needed to enter a business that is already overcrowded and needs consolidation. Sorry, guys, the game is up.
  • So does that mean the GM 100,000 mile warranty, extended service contract, and the bumper to bumper warranty my wife purchased for her 2008 Outlook are worthless. Thanks again GM.
  • In the long term GM and Saturn can not be saved. China, Russia, India, and Korea will take all the manufacturing for cars in the next few years. Even Japan can't compete with these countries. Auto manufacturing has just taken longer than TVs, Appliances, clothing, etc. to leave this country.

    A balanced trade package is the only way to save any US manufacturing. We don't have a friend in Washington who will say anything about limits on China.

  • Give it to Saturn-a quality car. As far as AIG, who wants,Mo Money, Mom Momey, Mo way ! On a completely separate note-how about bailouts for Doctors, Lawyers and CPA's ? No one has any $$ to pay us, yet they must be served. No one will get their refunds, people are sick w/no Blue Cross, and lots of couples can't afford to divorce-some are ticking time bombs ! Help out the Middle Class ! I saw a lady with 5 kids using food stamps who used to have a nice home in Carmel. She looked very embarrassed.

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