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Old 02-16-2009, 06:27 AM   #1
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Default Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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David Sedgwick from Automotive News: I was a believer. I really thought Saturn could succeed - if only General Motors would Europeanize the brand. I saw the light - or so I thought - in 2004 during a GM press trip at a swanky resort in Fayence, a town near the French Riviera. I offered Bob Lutz some free advice: Borrow Opel's cars for the U.S. market.

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Old 02-16-2009, 02:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

Meanwhile a bunch of us here predicted failure from the beginning. If only I could get paid a handsome bonus for being right!

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Old 02-16-2009, 02:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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Meanwhile a bunch of us here predicted failure from the beginning. If only I could get paid a handsome bonus for being right!
Umm....I think we get it: You told us so. I think this is the third separate thread where you say basically the exact same thing...."I was right", "I predicted this", blah blah blah.

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Old 02-16-2009, 02:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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Umm....I think we get it: You told us so. I think this is the third separate thread where you say basically the exact same thing...."I was right", "I predicted this", blah blah blah.
And meanwhile for years everybody here has called me overly negative. If more people had demanded that Saturn return to its roots, rather than just being a cheerleader for whatever product happened to get thrown Saturn's way, maybe we'd still have cars that sold like the good 'ol S Series did, rather than a bunch of cars sitting on dealer lots that nobody wants.

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Old 02-16-2009, 02:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

Everyone predicted it. It's all a matter of name and image. Both of which were working against Saturn.

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Old 02-16-2009, 03:17 PM   #6
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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Originally Posted by VTHokie00SL2 View Post
And meanwhile for years everybody here has called me overly negative. If more people had demanded that Saturn return to its roots, rather than just being a cheerleader for whatever product happened to get thrown Saturn's way, maybe we'd still have cars that sold like the good 'ol S Series did, rather than a bunch of cars sitting on dealer lots that nobody wants.
I feel the same way you do. If your not a Saturn cheerleader your not welcome here. Well look where it got them.

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Old 02-16-2009, 04:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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Originally Posted by VTHokie00SL2 View Post
And meanwhile for years everybody here has called me overly negative. If more people had demanded that Saturn return to its roots, rather than just being a cheerleader for whatever product happened to get thrown Saturn's way, maybe we'd still have cars that sold like the good 'ol S Series did, rather than a bunch of cars sitting on dealer lots that nobody wants.
It had little to do with anything you said and a lot to do with what people bought. The Saturn S-series sales peaked half a decade before the model line was discontinued. By the time it was discontinued, it's technology was obsolescent. Saturn cars have never been technically better than they are today but they were intentionally aimed at a market niche other than you because the company couldn't make enough profit selling to your market. They didn't make money in the old market and they couldn't score well with a new customer base. They tried a new game plan and the risk didn't work. Game over, it's time to move on. There will always be someone out there trying to sell us cars and now I want to see how GM is going to try to deal with a market segment where they have no obvious brand to do it.

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Old 02-16-2009, 04:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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It had little to do with anything you said and a lot to do with what people bought. The Saturn S-series sales peaked half a decade before the model line was discontinued. By the time it was discontinued, it's technology was obsolescent. Saturn cars have never been technically better than they are today but they were intentionally aimed at a market niche other than you because the company couldn't make enough profit selling to your market. They didn't make money in the old market and they couldn't score well with a new customer base.
It doesn't take a genius to realize you don't replace a mainstream economy model offered in sedan, wagon, and coupe form with a car only sold in hatchback form, in a country where hatches aren't particularly popular, and expect to maintain the same sales, much less improve sales numbers.

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Old 02-16-2009, 05:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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Originally Posted by VTHokie00SL2 View Post
It doesn't take a genius to realize you don't replace a mainstream economy model offered in sedan, wagon, and coupe form with a car only sold in hatchback form, in a country where hatches aren't particularly popular, and expect to maintain the same sales, much less improve sales numbers.
The Astra replaced the ION, not the S-series. I am an ION fan and thought they discontinued it too early but none of that matters now. I have better things to do with my time than second guess and cry over spilled beer. I want to see where GM goes now because without a brand to address a middle market, they have a gaping hole in their product line.

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Old 02-16-2009, 07:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

I thought Saturn had a shot at getting the average American to buy an Opel automobile.

Unfortunately history continues to repeat itself and most American car buyers will not buy an Opel.

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Old 02-17-2009, 01:26 PM   #11
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by VTHokie00SL2 View Post
And meanwhile for years everybody here has called me overly negative. If more people had demanded that Saturn return to its roots, rather than just being a cheerleader for whatever product happened to get thrown Saturn's way, maybe we'd still have cars that sold like the good 'ol S Series did, rather than a bunch of cars sitting on dealer lots that nobody wants.
I'm certainly not a "Saturn cheerleader", your I-told-you-so's were just getting tiresome. My 2003 Vue is in the shop as I type for the 2nd time in two weeks (oil pressure switch last week and turn signal stalk replacement today). It would be fixed already but I'm waiting on parts.....Saturn's body isn't even cold yet and parts are already an issue.

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Old 02-20-2009, 08:36 AM   #12
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

John10: I don't understand where this "big gaping hole" is.Not trying to be antagonistic,but part of GM's problem is too many brands, not enough market share.They didn't need another middle market brand. Sort of what squeezed DeSoto out.

The 'middle" was always B-O-P territory. Buick and Pontiac are still here.

Part of the problem was that what GM tried to do was attempt to use euro snob appeal on a brand known for selling sensible, economical cars. No one looked at Saturn on the same scale as Acura,VW, or even Mazda. That was foolish. All of a sudden Saturn is upscale "because we say so". Sort of like fiat money: it's worth this much "because we say so" with nothing of value to back it up.

In Saturn's case with one or two exceptions [Astra/VUE], nothing offered by the company was unique that couldnt alreqady be found at some other GM division.

Of course the transfer of Opel product has essentially been a stillborn effort.It's become apparent GM was going to only expend a minimal amount of energy and committment to re-think Saturn.

You know the way they've blistered the media with advertising for the Astra and Aura.......

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Old 02-20-2009, 07:07 PM   #13
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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I thought Saturn had a shot at getting the average American to buy an Opel automobile.

Unfortunately history continues to repeat itself and most American car buyers will not buy an Opel.
Agreed - I still think of that lousy Opel that showed up in Buick dealers in the 70s when I think of Opel. Maybe they're hoping that we forgot?

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Old 02-20-2009, 11:13 PM   #14
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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John10: All of a sudden Saturn is upscale "because we say so". Sort of like fiat money: it's worth this much "because we say so" with nothing of value to back it up.

In Saturn's case with one or two exceptions [Astra/VUE], nothing offered by the company was unique that couldnt alreqady be found at some other GM division.

Of course the transfer of Opel product has essentially been a stillborn effort.It's become apparent GM was going to only expend a minimal amount of energy and committment to re-think Saturn.
I would have to agree with you. It takes more than one product cycle to change brand perceptions. Look how long it took Audi to be taken seriously as an alternative to BMW or Mercedes. GM was like a crack addict looking for a quick fix...if one way of scoring a fix didn't pan out they immediately changed to something else. And now, in a modern day depression, they say, you the customer just didn't buy the cars. So, we'll drag your death out over a six month period, and make sure you are dead.

You know I'd like GM and Saturn to both thrive...but the management at GM is just SOOOOOOOOOOO bad, and the experience of how poorly theyve handled Saturn has just completely gutted any faith I had ever in GM or its products and people.

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Old 02-20-2009, 11:19 PM   #15
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

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Agreed - I still think of that lousy Opel that showed up in Buick dealers in the 70s when I think of Opel. Maybe they're hoping that we forgot?
You clearly did.

Opels showed up in the late 60's. I had one, a 1970 Opel GT. Awesome car. The Saturn SC - first gen - took a lot of its inspiration from that car. The Manta was quite good as well. The mid 70's OPELS weren't OPELS....they were rebadged Isuzu's.

Sounds pretty dumb doesn't it...trying to pawn off a third rate Japanese import as European car...funny how GM thought it would work at Saab 30 years later.

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Old 03-01-2009, 11:29 PM   #16
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Default Re: Automotive News: European Strategy Seemed Sound

Hind sight it 20/20. So now, what seemed like a good idea on paper did not pan out. Hopefully, someone at GM will learn lessons from the mistakes of the past so they can have a fruitful future. Part of good management is seeing into the future based on the past. I wish GM the best. For that matter Saturn. It is going to take a while for the dust to settle and for things to take their natural course.

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