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Saturn Production Halted, Remaining Cars Sold Off Within 4 Months

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Last week the sudden breakdown of a planned supply agreement between Penske and Renault/Nissan led to Penske's cancellation of its purchase of the Saturn brand from General Motors. That, in turn, led to GM's immediate start of winding down the brand. Now a time frame for the brand's departure has emerged: four months.

That's how long GM expects it will take to sell off the remaining stock of Saturn vehicles now that production has been halted. Once the vehicles are sold off, the rest of the brand will likely be shuttered quickly, with other GM-brand dealerships taking over the service and warranty duties.

The remaining supply of Saturn vehicles sits at about 12,000, many built for the expected supply agreement with Penske Automotive before that deal fell apart. Production of all Saturn vehicles ceased within 24 hours of the September 30 collapse of the purchase.

GM CEO Fritz Henderson said of the failed deal, "This is very disappointing news and comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality."

At the outside, the shutdown of Saturn will take 13 months, as our own Richard Read reported last week.

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Comments (5)
  1. The blame can pinned on both Penske and Henderson. Henderson could have extended the arrangement to supply vehicles to Penske indefinitely until a supplier could have been found. This would continued sales and supplies and retained american manufacturing jobs, especially in the wake of the loss of Pontiac. Saturn could have picked up the Pontiac G8 and Vibe, including the share of NUMMI, and provided an additional return on GM investment for the Sky/Solstice platform, including bringing the coupe to the market. Where are the Saturn dealers who could step in the void, enlist a partner (e.g., China, Middle Eastern, Magna of Canada, Suzuki, or Isuzu), and have GM spin off to them the factories and Saturn Corporation, which is still part of the old GM.
     
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  2. This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Drive one. This is one good advanced vehicle, efficient and durable. Comes with a stick shift, really a ground-breaking and all-around smart car. I bet someone picks this up.
     
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  3. Mr D has it correct. Bull headed misbehavior by GM and Government Motors. Saturn was one of things worthwhile saving.
    Please recall that Roger Penske was once a GM/Chevy engineer. He probably had his fill of Henderson's crap.
    I wish Nummi could be used to build Saturns with GM's tooling, but probably everyone wanted to avoid California taxes and labor unions.
     
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  4. Saturn was a great idea in the beginning and remained so until the late 1990s. When it started rebadging other vehicles, which was inevitable with GM, the great idea was no longer great. Saturn sadly wound up just another GM division sharing the same platforms as the rest of the company. Really, what is there to save besides the name? If spinning the company off succeeded, all Saturn would have wound up with was another batch of rebadged cars from some other automaker. This is not how great car companies are born and GM still does not understand this - brand is much more than a badge on a car.
    A brand like Mercedes-Benz has years of history, innovation and prestige behind it that make it unique. Along the same lines, a brand like BMW has sporting heritage and a reputation for being a driver's car that goes back decades. To a lesser extent brands like Honda and Toyota have reputations and qualities that are evoked the moment their name is mentioned.
    What can be said about saturn? What is one thing that their cars are known for across the board? Well they used to be known for dent-resistant body panels, but those are gone. Were they ever known for their reliability? Were they ever known for making good engines? How about responsive handling? The only thing I can think of that Saturn might still known for is their customer service experience. The unique product that Saturn started out with has fizzled and would up just another Badge on a common GM platform. I don't see anything worth saving. GM (and others) are best served by letting go and focusing on making more established brands better.
     
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  5. As a repair garage it has been our experience with Saturn
    parts are not available to repair the car. It has to be ordered
    and it is expensive. Some parts cannot be ordred or bought. The car
    is a loss to the customer.
     
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