GM Throws Lifeline to Flailing Saturn Brand, Admits It Didn't Spend Enough On Marketing New Models

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Jean Halliday from Advertising Age: General Motors is working behind the scenes to save Saturn. The automaker is working with dealers to keep Saturn in the GM orbit. It hopes to have an action plan ready within 30 days, said Fernando Somoza and Todd Ingersoll, two dealers on the brand's Franchise Operating Team. Neither dealer gave any details of options that are on the table, although Mr. Somoza said one proposal being studied "will have global implications." One consideration is finding a non-GM carmaker from abroad to distribute cars via Saturn's 400-plus dealers here, said an executive close to the matter. GM is trying to find buyers for Saab and Hummer and plans to pare Pontiac's model lineup as part of its restructuring plan to qualify for federal loans. But now Saturn is getting "more of an internal review" as opposed to a sale, said Mark LaNeve, GM VP marketing, sales and service in North America. Because of the way GM set up Saturn as a wholly owned subsidiary, the business "has more options" than the automaker's other vehicle brands, the spokesman said. Mr. LaNeve conceded that GM "didn't spend enough on marketing to introduce the new products."

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Flashback Friday: 1992 Business Week Cover Story

Flashback Friday: 1992 Business Week Cover Story

This August 17, 1992 issue of Business Week recognized Saturn as a rare success for General Motors. "As foreign rivals continue to flood the market with new models, Saturn is meeting them head on," wrote the magazine. "Almost overnight, Saturn has become the highest-quality American-made brand, with as few defects as Hondas and Nissans."