Did You Know? (Part 2)


Test you knowledge with these Saturn 'did you know' trivia bits from Saturn's yesteryear.

  • Saturn built its two millionth car, a bright red 3-door coupe, in January 1999... yes, that's 2,000,000 cars!
  • The 3-door RAD coupe went into production on Monday, November 2nd 1998.
  • Only 1877 special edition black-top coupes were built during the 1998-99 models years. 1308 were produced in 1998; 569 were made in 1999.
  • Saturn was the first U.S. auto manufacturer to build both manual and automatic transmissions on the same assembly lines.

  • Saturn automatic transmissions feature fuzzy logic technology. This allows the transmission to "learn" how you drive, reducing the amount of hunting and indecision that automatic transmissions typically make.

  • When designing the 1996 models, Saturn engineers discovered that the polymer body panels conducted road noise and other sounds from outside the car. As a fix, engineers lined the inside of the panels with Thinsulate.
  • The '96 models were 10-to-15 dBA quieter at high RPMs when compared to 1992 models.
  • In 1995 all Saturns received a new interior. Then in 1996, the sedans and wagons got a new, more rounded body style. The coupes were restyled a year later, in 1997. Saturn will also stagger the launch of its next generation of facelifted small cars beginning next year.
  • Then-GM chairman, Roger Smith, drove the first Saturn (a medium red '91 SL2) off the assembly at 10:57am on
    July 30, 1990 - 5 1/2 years after final approval.

  • When Roger Smith announced the Saturn project in November 1983, GM's market share was at 44.2%. Today its market share is around 18% according to Forbes.
  • Saturn equipped its cars with airplane style "flight" recorders beginning in 1995. They allow Saturn engineers to
    retrieve safety data from the cars after a crash. The engineers use the information to help them design even safer cars.

  • In 1993 Saturn recycled 41,700 tons of steel/aluminum and 1,640 tons of plastic.
  • Saturn posted its first operating profit (before taxes and intrest) in 1993.
  • Saturn recieved Popular Science's "Best of What's New" award in December of 1990. Here's what they said: "Saturn, GM's best engineering effort to date at an economical small car, pays off with a sedan and coupe based off a new kind of body construction, which layers high-impact thermoplastics over a steel space frame that is impervious to rust and easily repairable. We judge it to have an unusual harmony of design and performance."
  • The Saturn SL was rated best economy car by Car and Driver in July of 1992.
  • Saturn's traction control system was named "Technology of the Year" by Automobile magazine in 1993.
  • Saturn recalled virtually all of its cars built from 1990 to April 1993 to install a new fuseable link in the engine compartment to prevent the possiblity of potential engine fires. Saturn held recall parties, served donuts, and even sent owner to sporting events while their cars were repaired.
  • 27% of new car shoppers said they had a "more favorable" opinion of Saturn after the recall.
  • In Japan, Saturn's slogan translated into English is "The company and car with the deepest respect for the people."
  • A sign at the end of the Saturn assembly line reads: "Inspiration Point: Shipping point for the world's best cars."
  • Saturn workers had to complete training classes at what some call "Saturn University". Classes include: Awareness, Conflict Management, Consensus-decision making, and Team Dynamics, to name a few.
  • Saturn cars travelled though the plant on skillets, which let both workers and cars travel down the assembly line in sync. The skillets are like moving sidewalks. They can be adjusted up-and-down to best fit the particular individual assembling the car.
  • Saturn's manufacturing facility in Spring Hill was the first fully integrated automobile factory in the United States. It consists of an air-conditioned foundary, engine assembly and transmission facility, and stamping, fabrication, paint, vehicle assembly, and parts distribution area.
  • Spring Hill, TN is within 600 miles of 65% of the U.S. population.
  • Process fluids such as gasoline and windshield washer fluid are usually stored in underground tanks at typical
    car plants. However, costly envirmental leaks can occur (and often go unnoticed until its too late). At Saturn, all fluids are stored in above-ground tanks surrounded by containment materials to prevent leakage.

  • When building their Spring Hill manufacturing facility, Saturn designed a new way to build sewer pipelines across
    creeks. Similar designs have since been adopted by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

  • Saturn introduced its SC1 coupe in the beginning of the 1993 model year. It featured the front-end of the Saturn sedan and a 1.9L single overhead cam powerplant.
  • A 3 door notchback was originally scheduled to debut in 1994. However, plans were shelved indefinitely. The car was planned to be a 2 door version of the current SL sedan with a large notchback style trunk opening.
  • Saturn retailers demonstrated the power of profit sharing in 1993 when they gave back 1% of their margin to Saturn Corp. The unusual move raised $13 million, and helped Saturn turn its first operating profit that year.
  • In 1992, Saturn led the industry is sales per outlet with an average of 1072 cars through each of its stores.
  • By 1993 that number fell to 899 cars per outlet, mostly because Saturn added 46 stores that year.
  • Saturn traction control became an option in 1993. The traction control system is a relatively inexpensive, software-based feature that works with the car's ABS system and electronic powertrain controller. The system uses ABS wheel sensors to trigger three levels of traction control. When the ABS wheel sensors sense the wheels are spinning, engine spark is retarded. This cuts torque by 20%. However, retarding the spark can raise combustion temperatures, and eventually degrade the catalytic converter. This is when the second stage of the traction control system restores the spark and upshifts the transmission. If the transmission cannot be upshifted, it prevents downshifts. If the wheels continue to spin, the third stage cuts fuel supply to the engine.
  • Oldsmobile began to try to "Saturnize" itself in 1994. The division was tasked to become a "step up" division for Saturn.
  • The most popular color among sports and compact cars in 1993 was green.
  • Saturn donated 12 Saturn sedans to various colleges in North America competing in the 1994 Hybrid Electric Vehicle Challenge. College teams were asked to convert the cars from gasoline to power assist operation (internal combustion engine is supplemented with an electric motor).

  • Saturn sold about 40,000 cars during it's first year in 1991. By the start of the 1993 model year, it took 12 weeks to sell that many. The record sales pace of the summer of 1994 saw that many sold every six weeks.

  • Saturn's most popular colors through 1992 were (1) blue-green and (2) medium red.

  • Saturn has registered more than 55 patents. 27 were for their automatic transmission alone!

  • On October 24, 1998 there were 400 Saturn retailers are in the US.
  • In November 1998 there were only two states that did not have any Saturn retailers. They were Montana and Wyoming.

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