John McElroy: Why Saturn Failed

John McElroy from Autoline Detroit via AutoBlog: In the early 1980s General Motors launched a top-secret program to figure out how it could build a small car to successfully compete against the Japanese automakers. It was called the S-car program and the results of this study shocked top management at GM. It conclusively proved General Motors could not profitably build a small car in the United States that was priced against the Japanese — at least not under the current GM system. And that launched another study to figure out what it would take become competitive. GM concluded that it needed a clean-sheet approach to designing, engineering, manufacturing and retailing small cars in the American market. In other words, it needed a whole new car company. And so Saturn was born. To use a military analogy Saturn represented a beachhead for General Motors. It had successfully invaded enemy territory, and now had a toehold where it could capture import buyers. And sure enough, Saturn was definitely bringing in customers who otherwise would never by any other General Motors' products. Saturn walked away from its customer base. Instead of telling Saturn it had to live off its own cash flow, GM should have poured whatever it took into keeping that beachhead. Had it done so, the results could have been far different. But in the end the effort to save Saturn was too little too late. Just like Oldsmobile.

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General Motors Employee Pricing Sale Extended to September 30th; 2009 Aura, Outlook, and Sky Added to the Program

Saturn Employee Pricing Logo

General Motors announced today that the company will extend it's popular 100th anniversary employee pricing sale until the end of September. The sale "helped drive additional showroom traffic and our dealers are giving us some very enthusiastic feedback," said Mark LaNeve, vice president of GM North America Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing. "We had our best sales month so far in 2008." As a result, he said GM "added 19 additional 2009 models to the eligible list of vehicles because our 2008 stock on dealer lots is rapidly disappearing." Among the 2009 models added today were the Saturn Aura sedan, Outlook crossover, and Sky roadster.