Why One of Detroit’s Brightest Hopes Failed

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Patrik Jonsson from the Christian Science Monitor: General Motors' Saturn brand – touted as "a different kind of car company" – had high aspirations, borrowing the Japanese manufacturing model of team production, among other things. But the Saturn experiment fell to earth with a final thud Thursday as a "goal-line" deal to keep the brand alive fell apart. Saturn’s latest slogan – "We're still here" – suddenly seemed like a cruel joke as 350 dealerships are likely to close and 13,000 people face potential layoffs. True, Saturn made money in only one of its 20 years of car production. But in the end, it was internal resistance to the funky start-up and its pioneer attitude that felled it. In other words, the very qualities that Cornell labor expert Harry Katz, in his book "Shifting Gears," predicted could transform Detroit's ingrained big-car culture, doomed one of its brightest prospects, say experts. "It's criminal negligence. They got attacked internally, constantly, until today they were finally destroyed," says Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. "How do you take something that was such a good idea and wreck it deliberately?"

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Did You Know? (Part 2)

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