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John McElroy: Why Saturn Failed

John McElroy from Autoline Detroit via AutoBlog: In the early 1980s General Motors launched a top-secret program to figure out how it could build a small car to successfully compete against the Japanese automakers. It was called the S-car program and the results of this study shocked top management at GM. It conclusively proved General Motors could not profitably build a small car in the United States that was priced against the Japanese — at least not under the current GM system. And that launched another study to figure out what it would take become competitive. GM concluded that it needed a clean-sheet approach to designing, engineering, manufacturing and retailing small cars in the American market. In other words, it needed a whole new car company.

Farewell to Saturn’s Utopian Dream

Pam Platt from the Courier Journal: It wasn't just the new-car smell that made me want to swoon when I went to the Saturn dealership. It was exactly as my friend said: Nice people, no games, really nice cars, good prices. The Saturn salesman went a mile better than smacking the car seat and ordering me to sit. He let me drive the wagon for a couple of days so I could see how I liked it.

Saturn’s Sad Story Nears an End

David Welch from Business Week: The long, sad saga of Saturn is finally over. The once-hot General Motors division that began with a bang 19 years ago is now headed into oblivion after a deal to sell it to retailer Penske Automotive Group fell apart on September 30.

GM, Retailers Begin the End to Saturn

Robert Snell from the Detroit News: Dealers have until the end of October 2010 to close, but many will be gone by January because inventory is low, dealers said. The automaker will begin winding down Saturn dealers, who are being offered between $100,000 and $1 million to stay open and gradually sell inventory.

Renault Says Saturn Deal "Just Didn’t Add Up"

Lindsay Chappell from Automotive News: In the eleventh hour of Roger Penske's venture to acquire Saturn from General Motors to keep the brand alive, Renault's executive committee in France concluded, "Ca fait deux." Rough translation: "It's not going to come together." Despite Penske's statements that his organization had been in discussions with automakers around the world, ultimately his hopes had been pinned on only one: Renault.

GM Hasn’t Learned, Is Still "as Dysfunctional as Ever"

Jean Halliday from Advertising Age: General Motors said it wasn't going to do corporate ads — and then it put Chairman Ed Whitacre in its multiple-model "May the Best Car Win" campaign. The automaker also said it was going to create distinctive advertising for its four remaining vehicle brands, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC — but tell that to subscribers of Newsweek and BusinessWeek.

Spring Hill, Columbia Worry About Life after GM

Spring Hill Barn

G. Chambers Williams III from the Tennessean: Tom Smith opened the Video Shoppe in north Columbia a year after GM announced it would build a new Saturn plant in nearby Spring Hill. To his delight, the automaker put a giant training facility right next door, and rentals of his movies boomed. "I had a good run because of it," he said. But today, more than 20 years later, the South Central Tennessee Career Center has moved in next door, where unemployed people go to look for work. "Their business is great, but mine is not," Tom Smith said.

Saturn Couldn’t Escape GM’s Dysfunctional Orbit

Paul Ingrassia from the Wall Street Journal: General Motors and the United Auto Workers union have waged war against each other—sometimes hot, sometimes cold—for most of the past 80 years. One of the few things on which they collaborated, sadly, was undermining Saturn, which began as the boldest effort to reform the dysfunctional dynamics of their relationship.

Sudden Death of Saturn Marks End of GM Dream

Paul A. Eisenstein from MSNBC: It's been nearly a quarter-century since General Motors Chairman Roger Smith stunned the automotive world by announcing that GM would create an all-new car division, called Saturn. But 25 years later, Saturn's once high-tech factory, and Saturn itself, are closing down, testimonies to the failures of Smith, and the CEOs who followed him, to fix GM's problems.