Note: As General Motors gets ready to shut Saturn's doors at the end of this year, I'd like to take a moment to look back at why the brand was created and how it evolved over the years, what made the cars and company so special to me, and also address some concerns about how Saturn's closure will impact the future of SaturnFans.com.
Later tonight the giant ball in Times Square will be lowered when the clock strikes twelve and 2010 will come to an end. It's been a emotional year for Saturn employees, owners, and fans; October 31st marked the end of General Motors' grand Saturn experiment. Of all the news articles I've written for SaturnFans.com over the past 15 years, this one has been by far the hardest for me to write. Saying goodbye is never easy, and this time is no different. To me Saturn was more than just another car or company: it represented a fresh approach to running a business, and more significantly, it was a symbolic entry in America's ideological battle against the best vehicles the "import" car companies had to offer.
With the pending closure of the ImSaturn social networking site, Saturn has been working closely with me to facilitate a transfer of the most popular "social groups" from the ImSaturn site to SaturnFans.com. The remaining folks at Saturn have a sincere interest in making sure Saturn owners continue to have a place to talk about their cars. As a result, I'm happy to announce the creation of the new "ImSaturn Groups" section here at SaturnFans.com. Now more than ever, it's important for Saturn owners to have a place to share their experiences and get help. The new groups were built to closely mimic the group configuration at ImSaturn. You'll still be able to post photos, as well as send and receive messages from other members. You can also create your own social group!
From Saturn: On October 19, 2009, we sent a letter with the news that the sale of Saturn could not be finalized and as a result, the Saturn brand will be phased out over the next year. Reading letters you sent in, as well as the thoughts that were posted on saturn.com has been an emotional and uplifting journey.
A few days ago we took at look back at some of the first Saturn brochure covers. Today we have a sneak peak at what would have been the cover and front spread of the 2010 Saturn brochure. Saturn was reportedly gearing up for a big marketing push in 2010 once the Penske acquisition was completed.
It is with tempered excitement that I officially announce the start of SaturnFest 2009. The format for this year's event will be diferent from in the past. The familiar 5-day schedule has been expanded to 31 days, and the over-the-top celebration will be more reflective and subdued. Personally, I am still finding it hard to prepare a "celebration" so close to the brand's untimely death. Couple that with reports published almost on a daily basis about more retail facilities closing — leaving thousands of folks out of work during the holidays — really saddens me.
From AutoWeek: "All of our efforts will be to sell down our remaining 2009 inventory," Susan Docherty, GM's vice president of U.S. sales, said today at a press event. "We'll have a little bit of carryover of that into the first quarter of 2010, but the objective is to keep our inventory somewhere between 425,000 to 450,000 units." Docherty said she is confident that GM will clear out the 2009-model-year inventory by January. Meanwhile, the company likely will shutter its Pontiac and Saturn brands by the end of the first quarter, Docherty said.
Barbara Wieland from the Lansing State Journal: Sherrill Freeborough is finding there is life after Saturn. Freeborough was one of 340 Saturn dealers left hanging when GM's deal to sell the division to Penske Automotive Group collapsed September 30. GM quickly halted Saturn production - including dropping the Outlook crossover made at its Lansing Delta Township assembly plant - and began shutting down the brand. "It was sickening, disheartening," said the normally upbeat, optimistic Freeborough. "It took some time for the reality of it to sink in."
Unprecedented discounts on the last remaining Saturns present an enticing case to anyone in the market for a new car, especially if you're a Saturn owner. Al Clapsaddle, senior sales consultant at Saturn/West in Ohio, sent me an intriguing e-mail the other day detailing the laundry list of incentives available until November 30 — some of which are over and above those that were advertised nationally at the beginning of the month.
With General Motors' unfortunate decision to shutdown Saturn, the need for venues that enable owners and fans to communicate is greater than ever. In an effort to foster that communication across as many mediums as possible, SaturnFans.com can be followed via Twitter, RSS, ImSaturn, and now there's a fan page on Facebook. It's another place for Saturn owners — past and present — to socialize, share experiences, and offer support to each other in the wake of Saturn's untimely closing.
Automotive News reports that General Motors is preparing what will likely be one last Saturn advertising campaign in an effort to sell the brand's last remaining 9,400 2008 and 2009 models. Susan Docherty, GM's newly appointed vice president of U.S. sales, told the trade publication that "starting next week, we'll have a print campaign which features that product. In the next 90 days, we'll have cleaned up that inventory. I'm not worried about it at all."
Random Article from the SaturnFans.com Archives
General Motors announced today a significant reduction of planned production for the first quarter of 2009 due to the ongoing and severe drop in industry sales, which were down 36% in November overall and 41% for GM (2007 vs. 2008). The impact of these and recently announced actions to adjust production with market demand, will result in the temporary idling of approximately 30% of GM's North American assembly plant volume during the first quarter of 2009 and will remove approximately 250,000 units from production.