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  Home : Company : 2004 : Transcript of November 9th Chat Session with Jill Lajdziak  [ Save | Forward ]

Transcript of November 9th Chat Session with Jill Lajdziak • November 10, 2004

Below is a transcript of the November 9th chat session with Saturn's General Manager Jill Lajdziak. The session lasted a little over an hour and was a lot of fun. I will post some personal comments about my meeting with Jill in the next day or two. Thanks to everyone who was able to join us in the chat room, and thanks to Jill for making this event such a priority.

Tue Nov 09 14:02:59 PST 2004
Charlie: Hello everyone, welcome!

Tue Nov 09 14:03:56 PST 2004
Charlie: Before we get started I'd like to thank Jill for participating in this chat session!

Tue Nov 09 14:05:11 PST 2004
Charlie: I have assembled a list of questions that you all have sent in and we're going to go through them one by one. We'll also be taking questions if you can send them to me at core at

Tue Nov 09 14:08:19 PST 2004
Charlie: OK, I'm ready to get started. Thank you for your patience.

Tue Nov 09 14:09:46 PST 2004
Charlie: Jill, What kind of car do you drive?

Tue Nov 09 14:12:24 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: During the week I drive a Saturn product. During the weekend I normally drive competitive products as do many members on the team. It is a good way for us to stay on top of the competitive products. On the personal front my husband and I just purchased a Vue. We have two children and safety was very important to us.

Tue Nov 09 14:13:29 PST 2004
Charlie: If you could change one thing at Saturn, what would it be?

Tue Nov 09 14:14:24 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: Actually I feel that I and the members of my team are working on the one thing that we have wanted to change and that is a consistent design direction for the brand and a growing product portfolio.

Tue Nov 09 14:15:36 PST 2004
Charlie: Ok, thank you. Here is another question from a visitor. I have heard rumors from national periodicals that Saturn plans to move to more upscale vehicles when it next revamps its product line. While this is good news from the car side, some of us are concerned how it will affect the price structure of Saturn cars. In terms of costs adjusted for inflation how high of a price increase are you anticipating for the next generation of Saturn vehicles? If that increase is significant, what are you going to do to retain the existing Saturn customers who like the existing cars in terms of price, reliability and value?

Tue Nov 09 14:16:59 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: We intend on retaining our value proposition in the marketplace. As we grow our portfolio and enter new segments our price position will be competitive with like entries in those segments.

Tue Nov 09 14:18:47 PST 2004
Charlie: It sounds like there are some pretty exciting times ahead for Saturn! I know that we're all looking forward to seeing how Saturn's new products stack up against the competition in the new segments.

Tue Nov 09 14:19:08 PST 2004
Charlie: Many people fear that the days of Saturn's unique way of designing, manufacturing, and selling cars are over. Is Saturn becoming an influence to the rest of GM, or is GM imposing some of its more traditional ways of doing business on Saturn?

Tue Nov 09 14:22:05 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: This is a great question. I have been with the brand since the beginning as have many on my team. From my vantage point I think we are only getting stronger and better. We have a great brand, tremendous brand equity in the marketplace and now with the support of leveraging GM's global manufacturing processes and global engineering processes our products will continue to excel in levels of refinement. Saturn products will have a unique design character and the unique Saturn retail experience will continue to be a pillar of this brand.

Tue Nov 09 14:22:56 PST 2004
Charlie: That's very good news. Is there any truth to the editorial comments in Motor Trend that Saturn will be moving upmarket to compete with Lexus?

Tue Nov 09 14:24:34 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: No truth to the rumors but I like the compliment quality. Saturn products will continue to be more refined but we fully intend on keeping the right value proposition in the marketplace.

Tue Nov 09 14:28:18 PST 2004
Charlie: It is clear that Saturn is moving towards Opel for styling cues, and product direction, however, if we are to bring any kind of Astra-styled vehicle, or a roadster similar to the VX Lightning, how much effort will be made to not have a repeat of the Vectra/L-Series "lost in translation" debacle?

Tue Nov 09 14:29:57 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: Another good question. Our vehicles are being designed and engineered with the Saturn brand in mind. With the L series we took the vehicle that was already designed and made it a Saturn. The process today is different. We are able to leverage global architectures in the GM family and design and engineer the product for the Saturn brand.

Tue Nov 09 14:30:42 PST 2004
Charlie: I think it is great that you are "checking in" with the Saturn owners here on What made you decide to do this now?

Tue Nov 09 14:33:30 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: This is an important time for the Saturn brand. Our owners always have been and will always be very important to us. I want to make sure that the Saturn owners feel like they have knowledge of how we are growing the Saturn brand. It is also very important to hear the voice of the owner. This brand has been built on a value of continuous improvement and I learn from these kinds of interactions.

Tue Nov 09 14:35:39 PST 2004
Charlie: Many SaturnFans visitors have expressed interest in another Saturn Homecoming. Would you support such and event?

Tue Nov 09 14:39:49 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: We had two Homecoming events over the years and we received a lot of feedback that it was just too hard for many owners to make the trek all the way to Tenn. Today what we are doing is events in the various individual markets. In fact just a couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a homecoming event that the Detroit area retailers had for their owners at the Detroit Science Center. So homecoming can really take place throughout the United States, ultimately we think it is about bringing owners together in a spirit of thanking them for being a part of the Saturn family.

Tue Nov 09 14:41:07 PST 2004
Charlie: Is it true that Saturn is getting rid of polymer panels?

Tue Nov 09 14:48:35 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: We really had a decision to make. To keep the Saturn brand very small or grow the portfolio. Keeping the portfolio small was not viable for us. As you know a plant can not produce polymer and steel. If we want to grow the portfolio and take a certain quantity of units production from various plants we really needed to be open to steel body products. Also in a highly competitive marketplace steel body products gives us the opportunity to have tighter fits and finishes, also feedback we have had over the years. I do not think that Saturn equals polymer. I think that Saturn is about a brand you can trust. A brand that cares about you, a brand that is focused on safety and quality and now....a growing portfolio.

Tue Nov 09 14:49:33 PST 2004
Charlie: Can you update us on the status of the hybrid Vue?

Tue Nov 09 14:52:08 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: Yes, the Vue will have a hybrid, the BAS system which stands for belt alternator starter system. This will come to market as 2006. We do not want to stop there and the team is working on more hybrid vehicles for our growing portfolio.

Tue Nov 09 14:53:26 PST 2004
Charlie: Will Saturn have unique products and a unique market among GM's brands, or can we expect more cloning like the Relay?

Tue Nov 09 14:59:19 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: Yes, we'll have unique products that are every inch Saturn products. We will leverage global architectures and ensure that the products are executed with our consistent future design direction. The RELAY gave us an opportunity to quickly move into the mid van segment, gain some experience and send a signal of the level of refinement that this brand can bring to the marketplace.

Tue Nov 09 15:00:36 PST 2004
Charlie: It seems that for the past several years Saturn has struggled to find its brand identity. Are we still in the trial phase, or is a firm brand image in the works?

Tue Nov 09 15:05:27 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: Our positioning remains very clear and I feel very strongly that we will not change what this brand is in the hearts and minds of consumers. It has been and remains about a brand you can trust, a brand that gives you the best sales, service and ownership experience and now a growing portfolio with products that will excel in the segments in which they compete. I do think that there have been periods in our brands history when our advertising had wavered from who we are. Our new advertising captures the Saturn voice going forward and it will look very familiar for you from our work in the really days of the brand.

Tue Nov 09 15:07:13 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: Sorry for a few typos on the last answer, I hit the button before I proofed.

Tue Nov 09 15:07:33 PST 2004
Charlie: No problem! I know that we're coming up on an hour... but I think we have time for one last question. One frequently asked question of many visitors: do you read the Forums?

Tue Nov 09 15:12:13 PST 2004
Jill-Lajdziak: You bet. We read on a daily basis. I mentioned before that our owners are very important to us. I want to know what everyone is thinking. We have the good fortune today of technology like this and it keeps the lines of communication open and timely. It was terrific being with you today and really want to thank Charlie and his wife for being gracious hosts in their home.

Tue Nov 09 15:16:06 PST 2004
Charlie: Thank you again for coming to participate in this chat session. I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us this afternoon. For everyone in the chat room, Jill and Sherrie (Director of Saturn Communications) flew from Detroit to our house to talk about Saturn and participate in the chat this afternoon. They had a blast going through some of your questions; I hope you enjoyed this special event too. I'll have "behind the scenes" photos online soon.

Tue Nov 09 15:16:30 PST 2004
Charlie: Thank you to everyone for coming out tonight!

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