Saturn Prepares for Life Beyond General Motors

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Peter Valdes-Dapena from Abandoned and facing death as General Motors cuts brands in its own fight for survival, Saturn, the "different kind of car company," could soon become a very, very different kind of car company just to survive. GM has said it will stop producing Saturn vehicles in about two years. Rather than accept that it's over, Saturn executives and the brand's leading dealers are looking at new ways - some that have never been tried before - to keep Saturn alive. "When times are tough, that's when the biggest breakthrough's come," said Jill Lajdziak, Saturn's General Manager. Lajdziak is among a group of about 10 people, including a few GM executives, a few Saturn retailers and prominent industry consultant Stephen Girsky, who are considering some daring approaches. Among the options being seriously considered: selling electric cars, turning Saturn into a chain of boutique stores offering vehicles by various manufacturers or simply finding one company - perhaps one based in China or India - to make a new lineup of cars. All are variations on the same thing. The new Saturn will be a retail channel only. It will not be a car company. "We're not going to be in the manufacturing business," said Girsky, "We're going to leave that to the experts."

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