They’re Still Saturn

In response to some of the concern out there about Saturn’s potential demise, Saturn has sent out an email to it’s customers. They say that the idea may be for Saturn to go it’s own separate way, not to vanish as we fear:

Today, we confirmed that Saturn and GM would further investigate one of those options: a spin-off of an independent Saturn Distribution Corporation.

The Saturn Distribution Corporation already exists as an indirect subsidiary of GM. It’s the entity with which our retailers currently have their franchise agreement. An independent Saturn would still have its great retailers, and it would continue to source current products from GM through 2011. If successful, SDC at that point would source products from other manufacturers.

The goal—from a product perspective—would be to find future vehicles that match the Saturn Brand: fuel-efficient, safe, reliable and affordable. From a retailing perspective, we would build on our core strength of unmatched customer service. The same hassle-free experience that is a hallmark of the brand could be taken to even higher levels.

This leaves open the question of what they do to manufacture cars without GM’s backbone. The implication is that they would outsource elsewhere, but where?

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

5 replies on “They’re Still Saturn”

Wow. Very interesting stuff. I have no idea what goes on with car manufacturers, to be honest. But I hate to think of Saturn going away. They’re not just well-built cars, they’re also highly crash rated and reliable. I’ve had no problems with my Saturn in the four years I’ve had my lease. I think I’ll be interested to know what happens in the next few years, but one thing is for sure: they have brand loyalty to bank on if they can deliver the same quality.

They do, but they need to be more than just reliable. They have to compete with better and more innovative engines, interiors, and skins that the Koreans, Japanese, and other car mfrs are coming out with.

Saturn has great potential. It’s only just beginning to tap it.

Agreed. A 35MPG “hybrid” semi-luxury car – the non-hybrid version of which costs $4000 less and gets 33MPG – is really not going to cut it for innovation. Sadly, they’re still leap years ahead of anything else American out there on the market.

I have a ’96 Saturn, which I bought in a fit of patriotism and enthusiasm for the whole Saturn idea. As you might guess from the fact that I own a ’96 Saturn, I could care less about cars. I just want them to be fuel-efficient, practical and low maintenance. The Saturn is that, but just barely. It’s was less well-engineered than the ’89 Honda I used to own, and it’s not even in the same ballpark as our ’05 Honda. I’ve put more maintenance into the Saturn than either of those Hondas, and the controls, the handling and the fit and finish of the interior are all inferior to the Hondas.

Maybe BP is right that they’re on the road to a better car, especially with the Opel brands, but it would take one hell of a better car to get me to buy another Saturn. That’s the whole Detroit problem. Once you lose a car customer, you lose them for a generation, not just for a sale.

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