Detroit News: Saturn is GM's Brand for the Future

Saturn Astra XR 3-Door

As part of it's coverage of General Motors' 100th anniversary, the Detroit News profiled Saturn and discussed the brand's past, present, and future. Saturn is "in the middle of a transformation," five-time Saturn owner David Hyde, an automotive historian at Wayne State University, told the newspaper. "They're one of the brighter spots in General Motors' overall picture." Follow the link below to read the Detroit News article.

Saturn was touted as a "different kind of car company" when General Motors Corp. debuted the brand 18 years ago with a slavish devotion to customer service, a single-minded focus on compact cars and no-haggle pricing. The fuel-efficient, pocketbook friendly cars, featuring a dent-resistant body, caught on with the public and car snobs alike. Popular Mechanics awarded Saturn a design and engineering award for manufacturing high-quality new vehicles. But then Saturn and its Spring Hill, Tennessee, country style morphed into a different version of itself. Its signature compact cars, highlighted by the breakthrough of the 1991 Saturn SL1, went stale because the company failed to introduce new models. Saturn also was hurt by GM cost-cutting and its late launch into the profitable SUV market. "They never got back to the vehicle that really made Saturn tick," said auto analyst Erich Merkle of Crowe Horwath. But a reinvention is under way. Saturn's sporty Belgium-built Astra compact has won praise. The Vue has turned out to be a solid performer for customers looking for affordable crossovers, and the 2008 Saturn Outlook was rated one of the best new family vehicles. Saturn was rated the most improved brand in customer satisfaction in a recent University of Michigan survey.

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GM Vice Chairman of global product development, Bob Lutz, recently talked with Motor Trend magazine about the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. Part of the discussion touched on GM's use of consumer clinics to judge upcoming future car designs. "We're dialing back on clinics when styling is a home run," Mr. Lutz told Motor Trend in their October 2005 issue.