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Old 12-02-2008, 07:39 PM   #1
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Default NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Saturn

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[drupal=2711]NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Saturn Retailers[/drupal]

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Bill Vlasic from the New York Times reported yesterday that GM is exploring the idea of "a significant shrinking of its North American operations, including shutting more factories and streamlining its sprawling brand lineup, according to people with knowledge of GM's deliberations. One move under discussion, for example, would have GM buy out dealers that exclusively sell Saturns and market the cars through its Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealers instead."

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Old 12-02-2008, 09:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Sat

Like I said, never believe corporate execs. Didn't they publicly deny this at the same time a sale was reportedly being considered?

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Old 12-03-2008, 10:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Sat

Well no matter how you slice it, it looks like "Game Over" for Saturn. After 17 years it's been a fun ride. Although it really changed when they ended the S car (never truly advanced it from 1991) and tryed to pull Saturn under the corporate umbrella. They were late with an SUV and were always behind the eight ball. Terrible product development at the end.
GM just didn't care and this will probably always be looked at as the beginning of the end for Saturn when it goes in the history books.

Owned 7 Saturns so far...not a bad memory in the lot.
Raise a glass in memory of Spring Hill!

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Old 12-03-2008, 11:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Sat

This article hints at the possibility of Saturn's Dealerships being bought back by GM.

I guess the future holds what will happen...

http://industry.bnet.com/auto/100042...o-win-bailout/

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Old 12-03-2008, 06:42 PM   #5
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Default Re: NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Sat

There's 5 Saturn dealers here in the San Diego area, all owned by the same owner. I wonder how they're feeling these days.

You really summarized it well Scotsman. Saturn was always playing catch up, either with the Japanese, the SUV craze, or whatever. The S car was a good, straightforward car when it first came out, but it fell behind the curve after several years and I don't think the ION was competitive in terms of ride, handling, quality, or gas mileage (I don't know about its reliability). They say it almost costs as much to build a small car as a large one, but you can charge twice as much for the large one. A division created to sell small cars doesn't stand much of a chance in the USA with our higher labor costs ...

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Old 12-03-2008, 07:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Sat

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They say it almost costs as much to build a small car as a large one, but you can charge twice as much for the large one. A division created to sell small cars doesn't stand much of a chance in the USA with our higher labor costs ...
That's a good point. But look at the very large number of Mazda 3's out there. That car is built in Japan, where labor may be cheaper but probably not by much, right? Then factor in the shipping costs. Does Mazda make a profit on the 3's sold here?

The Mazda 3 is what I think the S Series should have become - a high feature, sporty economy-class car offering luxury features that you don't typically find in that class of car. And it seems very successful. Everywhere I've traveled in recent years - Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe - I've seen 'em in good numbers. I test drove one and almost bought one. Instead I got a Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited, and I actually gave up a couple of features that I would've gotten in the Mazda 3, like the in-dash navigation system. (Of course, I got AWD and a slightly more upscale car, more in line with the Mazda 6.)

The Saturn S Series was a high feature car for its class when it came out. But as the imports caught up, not only did Saturn stand still, but it went backwards. First GM eliminated rear disc brakes and started putting rear drums on all trim levels. Then, when the ION replaced the S, it had the torsion beam rear suspension. Lots of little items like the locking fuel filler door were eliminated. GM's small cars are built to feel cheap, not to feel like smaller versions of their more upscale offerings.

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Old 12-04-2008, 01:01 AM   #7
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Default Re: NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Sat

Quote:
Originally Posted by VTHokie00SL2 View Post
That's a good point. But look at the very large number of Mazda 3's out there. That car is built in Japan, where labor may be cheaper but probably not by much, right? Then factor in the shipping costs. Does Mazda make a profit on the 3's sold here?

The Mazda 3 is what I think the S Series should have become - a high feature, sporty economy-class car offering luxury features that you don't typically find in that class of car. And it seems very successful. Everywhere I've traveled in recent years - Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe - I've seen 'em in good numbers. I test drove one and almost bought one. Instead I got a Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited, and I actually gave up a couple of features that I would've gotten in the Mazda 3, like the in-dash navigation system. (Of course, I got AWD and a slightly more upscale car, more in line with the Mazda 6.)

The Saturn S Series was a high feature car for its class when it came out. But as the imports caught up, not only did Saturn stand still, but it went backwards. First GM eliminated rear disc brakes and started putting rear drums on all trim levels. Then, when the ION replaced the S, it had the torsion beam rear suspension. Lots of little items like the locking fuel filler door were eliminated. GM's small cars are built to feel cheap, not to feel like smaller versions of their more upscale offerings.

Yep! I really don't know how the Japanese make the economics work on small car manufacturing.. I am guessing that it isn't easy, but CAN be done if you are efficient and do everything right. And the Japanese are famous for just that.

I read an article in the paper a few years ago addressing the exact things you describe here - how American vehicles (and smaller ones in particular) have cheaper-quality materials than the same class/cost as the Japanese vehicles. The writer explained that the American firms' bean-counters know the competition, and come up with a target price that the cars is not allowed to go above. The company then engineers the vehicle as good as possible for that tgt price. The problem is, GM and other American manufacturers' labor was so much more expensive than the foreign firms' that they had to 'cut-corners' in other areas -- like materials. This is probably why we saw the drum brakes, non-locking gas cap doors, and inferior suspensions that you mentioned. Then throw in Toyota's legendary efficiency of eliminating waste (both material and labor... ) and there you have it. The American version, and especially the smaller vehicles where profit margins are razor thin, feel cheap because they are cheap!

I always got the impression that small cars were truly an afterthought at GM and something they really had no interest in building, but provided the cheap "econo-box" vehicles because people insisted on them. They were much more interested in selling higher end vehicles. But then the Japanese started building Lexuses, Infinitys, and Acuras, attacking them on their own higher-end base. The SUV craze kept them out of hot water for awhile, but now it's come down to quality and value. The only true advantage I see left of the American vehicles over the foreign ones is styling.

I always hate to say that this or that occupation is over- or under-paid, because what do I know? But as we see here, it's all relative.

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Old 12-04-2008, 09:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Sat

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The problem is, GM and other American manufacturers' labor was so much more expensive than the foreign firms' that they had to 'cut-corners' in other areas -- like materials. .
As Daimler found out American white collar salaries knew no bounds. Search the salary of the head of Daimler then look at the VP salaries of American auto makers. How many cars do you have to sell to make up $10M in one man's salary? Pity is the Americans could do it, if those at the top weren't killing the golden goose, then labor knows this and goes the same route.

Top to bottom American execs need a head bashing. Perhaps the Awakening has begun.

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Old 12-05-2008, 12:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Sat

Here is my email to the author of the article...
--
Micheline, Your article today regarding the past and future of Saturn is one of the few comments I have read on GM and in particular on Saturn that accurately presents the value of the Saturn brand and why GM would be taking just another step down the road to ruin should it close down the brand as has been reported. As the owner of three Saturn vehicles (since 1994), I have experienced a level of customer service and product reliability that had few equals. For years any visit to the service department was generally followed by a survey mailed to my home which guaranteed that the promised high standards were always delivered. I recall one year when the manager of the service department at my local dealer (Decatur, GA) posted a large handwritten sign asking anyone who thought they would enter a negative comment on their review to see him first. Alas the questionnaires along with the computer system which kept track of any maintenance done on my Saturn at any delearship across the nation has long been phased out as the company adopted corporate "no customer service" policies. In terms of the quality of the Saturn product I should mention that I purchased my last new vehicle, a Saturn Vue, within weeks of it's introduction because I knew that the quality of work from the Spring Hill Plant would produce a nearly defect free product from day one, a belief that I am proud to say has proven true. The final irony is that to succeed, GM must finally accomplish what it set out to do with Saturn, build a quality small car. I hope that the corporation realizes their best chance of achieving this is to drive it through the Saturn organization which had the promise and still has the potential to deliver the goal and keep me as a customer.
--

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