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Old 11-16-2007, 08:28 PM   #1
WhenenRome
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Question Vanishing dealerships in my area

In the past year or so, three Saturn dealerships have closed in my area of Los Angeles County. There are now no Saturn retailers in the entire San Gabriel Valley, which is a large region of the county, spanning from Pasadena at the west, to Pomona at the east. Two of the dealers - Saturn of Monrovia and Saturn of Alhambra - were owned by the same company. Monrovia closed several months ago (replaced by a Mazda dealer, operated by said company) and Alhambra more recently. Prior to that, Saturn of Baldwin Park had closed.

I bought my car at Saturn of Torrance, which is 35 miles away. Now, the closest dealers are all more than 20 miles away. There is a nearly 40 mile east-to-west x 20-mile north-to-south gap between Saturn retailers within the Greater Los Angeles area. I'm told by the Chevy dealer in my area that they won't service my Aura, and that because of the divided attitudes of technicians among the various GM makes, I'm pretty much stuck with a far drive for service. Whether that's REALLY true or not, policy-wise, I don't know.

I guess my question is, does anyone here know of any GM plans to open new dealers in this region? It seems to me that Southern California would be an important market... and within 5-10 miles of me, NOT counting where there were previous locations, there are two newer auto dealership centers that don't have - and have never had - a Saturn retailer: West Covina Auto Row and Glendora Auto Center.

Obviously there's some wishful thinking in this. But I wondered if anyone was more knowledgeable here about the longterm strategy of Saturn retailer locations... or even contingency plans for service offerings in retailer-deprived areas like my own.

...
Now: 07 Saturn Aura XR 3.6 Black / 04 Olds Bravada Final 500 Dark Cherry (both paid for!)
Then: 02 Olds Alero GLS / 01 Olds Aurora 3.5 / 95 Ford T-Bird LX-V8
In Fam: 05 Buick LaCrosse CXS

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Old 11-17-2007, 10:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

The big 3 American brands are all losing market share, nobody who's losing market share opens new dealerships.......

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Old 11-17-2007, 02:14 PM   #3
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

Thanks, I'm aware of the overall market. But that isn't necessarily true. New dealerships, including a Chrysler dealer, opened up in my area during the last year. The problem is that in my area, which is part of the auto industry's most critical sales market, does not have a Saturn dealer for a 40x20 mile wide span because of recent closures. (I was made aware that two of the Saturn retailers, owned by the same dealer conglamourate, were constantly at odds with GM/Saturn over the last few years - and that their contracts were not renewed as a result of those disputes.) Yet, other parts of the Greater Los Angeles region have Saturn retailers within less than 10 miles of each other. There's a huge VOID. And my question beyond that was, what kind of contingency plan does GM/Saturn have regarding service in that area? If anyone had any deeper knowledge on that (that's not to say I'm ungrateful for someone stating the obvious to me! ), I'd appreciate hearing that insight and perspective.

...
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Old 11-17-2007, 04:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhenenRome View Post
If anyone had any deeper knowledge on that (that's not to say I'm ungrateful for someone stating the obvious to me! ), I'd appreciate hearing that insight and perspective.
Saturn of Monrovia closed up within weeks of purchasing my daughter's ION. I *****ed to Saturn and they gave me four free oil changes as compensation/good will. That dealer advertises a lot for saturn service coustomers. The local Pontiac and Chevy dealers are also trying to get our service business. Of course warranty claims can be accomplished only at a Saturn dealership IIRC.

If you go to www.saturn.com ask the coustomer service rep when we will get relief. Once I was told soon and in Pomona. Latley they claim not to know anything. Good luck.

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Old 11-17-2007, 04:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

Thanks, Haypops... Saturn of Monrovia was owned by Sierra Auto Group, as was Saturn of Alhambra. My brother in law was a tech for Saturn of Ontario, and a co-worker's husband, a former tech for Monrovia. Both told me that Sierra Auto Group was immersed in breach-of-contract and substandard customer service issues with Saturn... and that those issues led to the closing of both dealers. I suspect that those service offers you're getting are from Sierra dealers.

I'm in Azusa, I see you're in Altadena. Saturn recommends their Whittier dealer for me in their mailers and on their website. If my car has warranty issues, Whittier, as you can imagine, would be quite a drive. Where do they refer you to, somewhere in San Fernando Valley?

I wonder why, at least for the time being, GM doesn't mandate other nearby GM dealers to pick-up the Saturn warranty work - while they agressively focus on bringing at LEAST one retailer back into the San Gabriel Valley area. You said they mentioned Pomona as a possibility (I'm guessing the Auto Center along the 71 freeway); that location would be okay for me, but I would imagine not very helpful to you.

I guess it's hard to swallow that GM / Saturn would sit back and let customers twist in the wind, or shrug and say "drive/tow 20 miles or more if you want warranty service'' - especially in this market region. I'm hoping you and I (along with the other gazillion Saturn owners we see driving in our area) get more responsive, solid answers solutions to these recent dealer closures.

...
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Old 11-17-2007, 05:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

My daughter and her father in law have taken their cars to the whittier dealer. I hear that Saturn of th eValley is better (certainly bigger)

By the way I bought a new Chevy HHR from Sierra Chevy in July and they have treated us very well. The offers of service on the Saturn was not just from them, but also Team Chevy (sucks) and Thornson Pontiac-Buick-GMC (very good too).

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Old 11-17-2007, 05:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

Granted I don't live in California, but I have heard about Saturn of El Cajon...

is that anywhere near you?

Just a thought...

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Old 11-17-2007, 05:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

Thanks, 2ndsOut.. no, El Cajon is pretty far off. And Haypops, you mentioned Saturn of the Valley - in North Hills... for me, that's so far, I might as well go ahead and drive to El Cajon!

The closest dealers to me are Whittier and Ontario. Ontario is further, but more accessible (traffic-wise). Like Saturn of the Valley, Ontario is a big dealer.

But Haypops, I did take your suggestion and wrote a detailed e-mail to Saturn customer service. I'll let you know if / when I hear anything back and what they have to say...

...
Now: 07 Saturn Aura XR 3.6 Black / 04 Olds Bravada Final 500 Dark Cherry (both paid for!)
Then: 02 Olds Alero GLS / 01 Olds Aurora 3.5 / 95 Ford T-Bird LX-V8
In Fam: 05 Buick LaCrosse CXS

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Old 11-17-2007, 06:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

The biggest issue is that the dealers cannot sell other brands in the same showroom. It makes it difficult to make a decent profit. You can close a Saturn dealer and open up a Mazda/VW/Hyundai in the same spot.

...
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Old 11-17-2007, 07:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

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The biggest issue is that the dealers cannot sell other brands in the same showroom. It makes it difficult to make a decent profit. You can close a Saturn dealer and open up a Mazda/VW/Hyundai in the same spot.
True enough, but inthe two cases WheninRome is discussing both dealerships that were opened are stand alone (Mazda for one and Accura for the other).

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Old 11-17-2007, 07:14 PM   #11
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

[QUOTE=WhenenRome;1156405]

The closest dealers to me are Whittier and Ontario. Ontario is further, but more accessible (traffic-wise). Like Saturn of the Valley, Ontario is a big dealer.

QUOTE]
Saturn of Cirritos is only a couple of miles away from Saturn of Whittier. We need a better distribution of Saturn dealers here.

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Old 11-17-2007, 07:17 PM   #12
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2NDSOUT View Post
Granted I don't live in California, but I have heard about Saturn of El Cajon...

is that anywhere near you?

Just a thought...
El Cajon feels like another state!

Speaking of another state; I have spent many weeks visiting in your neck of the woods (Florence, KY)

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Old 11-17-2007, 11:49 PM   #13
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Devil Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

Quote:
Originally Posted by s3nfo View Post
The big 3 American brands are all losing market share, nobody who's losing market share opens new dealerships.......
Companies who play the market, watch for signs of change, both negative and positive. Saturn's fortunes seem very bright indeed with desireable new products on the showroom floor right now, and a pipeline full of more highly saleable products due to arrive over the next several years.

Saturn's growth is assured and their market share is moving upward, right now. Saturn is a hot franchise and investors know it. Watch Saturn grow.

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Old 11-17-2007, 11:53 PM   #14
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

Quote:
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Saturn of Cirritos is only a couple of miles away from Saturn of Whittier. We need a better distribution of Saturn dealers here.
EXACTLY what I was trying to get at earlier. There's this HUGE void of dealers all across the north-eastern Los Angeles County and into San Bernardino County / Inland Empire area. From LA City all the way to the edge of Ontario. But once you do get to a place with a Saturn retailer, then you'll find yet another one a few miles away... then another, and another.

I'm sure they didn't expect to lose three dealers in the same area, within such a short span of time (especially two practically at once, by the same owner). But they definitely need to make a plan to fix this... even if it means suspending their policy of not combining with another GM make - as was mentioned by Davidsky. Because with this being such a critical market region having this huge a void in available sales & service (and especially this occurring during Saturn's reneissance), they can't afford to drag their heels here. Not to mention, their current owners throughout this region deserve better.

...
Now: 07 Saturn Aura XR 3.6 Black / 04 Olds Bravada Final 500 Dark Cherry (both paid for!)
Then: 02 Olds Alero GLS / 01 Olds Aurora 3.5 / 95 Ford T-Bird LX-V8
In Fam: 05 Buick LaCrosse CXS

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Old 11-18-2007, 12:41 AM   #15
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

WhenInRome:
I completely agree with you. I used to have my car serviced at either the Monrovia or Alhambra dealerships (about 15 miles from me), but now I'm forced to drive all the way to North Hills!

After the Monrovia and Alhambra stores closed, I received a form letter in May from a *Chuck Marcinkowski, Market Area Manager, Los Angeles* saying that Saturn was planning to replace the retail outlets as soon as possible. Well, here we are still with no new locations. A couple of months ago I called to inquire, but I was told that did not have any information on when/where we could expect a new location.

This is extremely inconvenient, and I just can't understand why they would leave such a huge area without coverage. And before that, I could never understand why they didn't have a store in Glendale, on the famous "Brand Boulevard of Cars" almost a mile-long stretch with dealerships for just about every car brand.

I love my Saturn, but I do not love having to drive 20+ miles, which as you know in L.A. can mean at least a 45-minute drive!
I really feel that Saturn has deserted many of their loyal owners and are now missing out on lots of new sales.

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Old 11-18-2007, 09:48 AM   #16
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

Quote:
Originally Posted by haypops View Post
El Cajon feels like another state!

Speaking of another state; I have spent many weeks visiting in your neck of the woods (Florence, KY)
My wife and I have alot our friends that live in Florence...it's about a half hour drive from where we are in Cincinnati...

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Old 11-18-2007, 10:33 AM   #17
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

You've lost 3 dealers? Shucks. Theres only 2 to begin with here.

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Old 11-18-2007, 02:37 PM   #18
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

For some reason, much of the dealer closings are on the coasts, especially California and New York.

At one time (the late 90's), the metropolitan NYC area had as many as a dozen retailers, it's now down to four: three on Long Island and one in uptown Manhattan.


...
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Old 11-19-2007, 12:12 PM   #19
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

I wish I only had to drive 20-25 miles to get to my dealer. I'm not in California, either. Cincinnati-ish. Actually, about 45 miles east of Cincinnati, so my nearest dealer is about 50 miles from me. I think Saturn would do well to open a few dealerships in smaller, less urban areas, as well. Obviously, they won't be the dealership of the year, but I don't really enjoy driving 100 miles round trip just to get an oil change.

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Old 11-19-2007, 12:33 PM   #20
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Default Re: Vanishing dealerships in my area

No big surprise that the dealerships are going . I just saw the first Saturn newspaper ad since summertime last weekend ! With advertising like that how can they succeed ?

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