Saturn: GM's Brand for the Future (Visit this link)
Saturn was touted as a "different kind of car company" when General Motors Corp. debuted the brand 18 years ago with a slavish devotion to customer service, a single-minded focus on compact cars and no-haggle pricing. The fuel-efficient, pocketbook friendly cars, featuring a dent-resistant body, caught on with the public and car snobs alike. Popular Mechanics awarded Saturn a design and engineering award for manufacturing high-quality new vehicles. But then Saturn and its Spring Hill, Tennessee, country style morphed into a different version of itself. Its signature compact cars, highlighted by the breakthrough of the 1991 Saturn SL1, went stale because the company failed to introduce new models. Saturn also was hurt by GM cost-cutting and its late launch into the profitable SUV market. "They never got back to the vehicle that really made Saturn tick," said auto analyst Erich Merkle of Crowe Horwath. But a reinvention is under way. Saturn's sporty Belgium-built Astra compact has won praise. The Vue has turned out to be a solid performer for customers looking for affordable crossovers, and the 2008 Saturn Outlook was rated one of the best new family vehicles. Saturn was rated the most improved brand in customer satisfaction in a recent University of Michigan survey.