Saturn Prepares for Life Beyond General Motors

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Peter Valdes-Dapena from CNNMoney.com: 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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I drove from Vancouver, British Columbia to Victorville, California and back to Washington state in mine. I stopped off in Sacramento and picked up three more people on the way down and dropped them back off on the way back. It managed to take the Grapevine with that load passing other vehicles with ease. It got great mileage down and back with the average of 26 mpgs.