Did Saturn Move Up Market too Fast?

Jerry Flint from Forbes: Saturn probably had the latest and best lineup of any GM brand: two well-done SUVs, the Outlook and the Vue, the handsome Aura sedan, a sister of the Chevy Malibu, the European built-small Astra car, and even a two-seat sports car, the Sky. But sales went nowhere. GM had said it will kill the brand, but now hopes to sell the name to Roger Penske. Why did Saturn fail despite a decent product lineup? I would say because they went "upscale." Saturn was created as a low-priced line, below Chevrolet, to take on lower-priced imports. That new lineup was good, but its prices were higher - $20,000 for the small car, $25,000 to $35,000 for the others. There's nothing wrong with moving up-market; lots of companies do this. But it takes time to build a new customer base, maybe a decade. People who paid $15,000 for the last Saturn will have trouble trading up for a $35,000 model. GM gave up on Saturn after two years.

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Virtual Polymer Body-Side Panel Demonstration

SaturnFest 2009

Over the years, one of Saturn's most impressive features was their innovative plastic polymer body panels that it used to cloth it's cars in. The panels resisted damage from small dents, dings, and minor bumps — they proved to be very popular among Saturn owners. The panels simply absorbed the impact, and bounced back into their original form. Back in the day, if you went to your local Saturn retailer, the sales folks would eagerly show you how well the panels worked by either pounding on the side of a car with their fists, or by inviting you to jump up and down on a sample door panel laying on the floor. No matter how hard you tried, the panels always went back to their original shape.