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Old 03-12-2012, 09:35 AM
 
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A couple of my kids have Saturns from the late 90s. I've done a little work on them. They seem like a decent enough little car, though light and cheaply made.

I'm wondering... Why did they ever start to make Saturns in the first place? Were they supposed to compete with Hyundais & Kias, or what was the idea?
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:43 AM
 
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At the low point of GM's horrible public image as to their crappy products, it ws an effort at re-branding. The whole campaign was directed at the premise (false as it turned out) that everything about the Saturn was new and it held none of the stink of GM's rotting corpse. Buyer could be proud that America had taken back the lead from Japan.

Public fooled again.
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Ontario, NY
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I thought the line was made to lure people back into the dealerships to buy cars. It was suppose to be a no haggle dealership, where you paid a low set price rather than trying to haggle with a slimy sales person. The theory is some people are really turned off with the whole haggle process, just want to pay a fair price and get on with there lives.

Most of the time when buying a car it turns into a whole day affair. When my father-in-law was having car trouble with his Jetta, went to the VW dealership in the morning and the rest of the day at the Hyundai dealership, he didn't get home with a new car until late at night. Was there the whole day, didn't even have a chance to eat anything. His case is the extreme since he was upside down on his loan and the engine was shot on his Jetta, the VW dealership was F'ing with him cause they thought he had no choice to take what ever crappy deal they offered him. He ended up driving his car 10 mph a few miles away (engine smoking and all) to the Hyundai dealership and make a deal there.
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:58 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilson513 View Post
At the low point of GM's horrible public image as to their crappy products, it ws an effort at re-branding. The whole campaign was directed at the premise (false as it turned out) that everything about the Saturn was new and it held none of the stink of GM's rotting corpse. Buyer could be proud that America had taken back the lead from Japan.

Public fooled again.
Subtract the hatred of GM from this post and it's not far off. They wanted to start a new brand for the young people. Basically, it was supposed to be a great small car for the money with better quality than GM was putting in to their other small cars. Innovations like hard plastic door and fender panels and light weight construction. Also was supposed to be ground breaking in customer service for that price range.

Then they lost interest in it and went back to making over priced trucks with passenger seats in them as usual.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:00 AM
 
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Ya, their schtick was no haggling and the plastic door panels you could bounce shopping carts off of.
And their secondary schtick was "my first new car", which it actually was for me. They took polaroids of you when you took delivery and hung it on their wall. This kind of thing was a big deal at the time... made it seem like the dealership actually cared. I had a Coupe... which was a great little car at the time especially for someone just out of college. But then i gave it up with about 33k miles on it when the New Beetle came out.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:38 AM
 
Location: Eastern NC
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It was a good idea but GM let it die for the higher profit SUV's and trucks. I had read a story once on how the imports were actually worried when Saturn's first came out, so they bought one and took it apart. They wern't scared after that. It actually breathed a sigh of relief.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:46 AM
 
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When they started Saturn it really was a separate manufacturer and much of the hype was real. After GM got deeper into financial trouble the separate Saturn plant was closed and the cars were then made on the same assembly lines as Chevys and they started to share most parts. That killed the whole concept of Saturn.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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Saturn was supposed to be made be people who actually cared. If you ordered one, you could make an appointment to go to the factory and watch ehm build your car and meet the people doing the work. It was supposed to inspire both workers and buyers. They tried to make it a better palce to work and get workers to take pride in their product (I think they succeeded). The S2s were great little cars for the money and seem to last forever. (S1 had some major problems) They got very good mileage (40 freeway). My brother still drove his until a couple of years ago. My son wants an S2 sedan. He thinks it is the only economical US car that he can afford that he likes.

When they stopped making Saturns as Saturns, it was all over.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:01 AM
 
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It was a decison made to try to become a car seller since all the big 3 where really mostly SUV and truck salers.They tried to compete with Honda and toyota.Then of course they tried to do it by buying out established brands that also didn't work.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:11 AM
 
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Others have touched on what Saturn was supposed to be without necessarily addressing the core reasons behind the brand. GM in the early 1980's when Saturn was dreamed up still owned ~50+% of the domestic US auto market. It also still viewed the recent successes of the Japanese imports as being a failure on their part to address certain market demands, not an issue with their product per se.

The average age of GM buyers was getting older, while the import brands continued to enjoy robust sales among younger people. GM's answer was to create a new brand specifically targeted at the youth market free of any corporate baggage and stigma's. GM theorized that Saturn would become the new entry-level and then people would graduate to Chevy and then up through the GM hierarchy of cars. While that thinking seems foolish now, for a company that had such massive market share brand stratification and compartmentalization isn't such an odd choice (see Hyundai/Kia in Korea). So, Saturn was designed to directly compete with the import brands and recapture lost sales among youth.

The problem was that while Saturn was succesful, it was never as succesful as they wanted in terms of gross sales. It was also dismal at doing what it's main point was, capture sales from import brands. Roughly 45% of Saturn buyers in the early years were already GM owners. Another 30% or so were owners of other domestic brands. Only 15% were first time buyers and roughly 10% were import owners.

The Saturn brand also cost an immense amount of money and their cars cost more then their import competitors. This led GM to gradually move Saturn into just another badge engineered brand that no longer stood for anytihng unique outside of the dealership system. Ultimately, GM spent around $5 billion in the 1980's to invent Saturn, money that could have gone a long way to improving their other product. A lot of industry analysys blame the creation of Saturn and the money and talent it drained as one of the main reasons GM cars were so poor in that time period.

What I have found interesting is that Toyota basically pulled a Saturn with the Scion brand. Toyota buyers were getting older and they wanted to capture the youth market, so they invented a brand. It was succesful at first, but has yet to meet it's goals and sales are in the toilet. Of course, Toyota didn't go as full bore on Scion as GM did on Saturn, but there are lots of interesting parallels.

Auto companies want the youth, because the youth tends to stay loyal. However, the youth also tends to not pick what their parents drive. So, just as people in the 1990's didn't choose a Saturn, which was the same thing as their parents Chevy to them; people in the 2000's aren't buying Scions which is pretty much the same thing as their parents Toyota (that they started buying because they didn't want their parents Chevy, lol).
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