An Inside Perspective: Retooling Spring Hill

To many fans, the former Saturn manufacturing plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee is a big part of the brand's heritage. The sheer number of emails I've received about the plant from Saturn owners over the years speaks volumes for the appreciation customers have for the work – on both the union and management sides – that was done at the facility.

I recently received an email from a longtime Spring Hill worker who wrote to tell me about some of the changes going on as the plant prepares to build its first non-Saturn vehicle later this year. The message also provided a general perspective of how some workers in Spring Hill feel about where they've been, where they're going, and the changes along the way. With permission, I'm sharing this note with you.

Things are moving to a post-Saturn feel at the plant. The transformation is taking place as Spring Hill moves from building Saturn cars to a new Chevy crossover. The plant has had all of the old equipment removed, and trucks are coming in daily with the new machinery. Powertrain is still building the 2.2L and 2.0L turbo, and they're getting ready for 2.4L production. Some of the operators will be coming back at the end of February.

Its somewhat sad, seeing the Saturn signs being removed in the plant. There's a lot of history in those signs. I came here in the late 1980s when Saturn was not only a new car, but a new concept. I was there when Roger Smith drove off the first Saturn in 1990. That car still sits in the main office. I was a host at both of the Homecomings where thousands of people came from around the county to Spring Hill with their Saturns. It was just like a big old family reunion. I watched the change from a single style SL and SC to the station wagon. I watched the SC get a third door. I helped put in new equipment so we could build the Vue, and in resent years, the addition of the Ion.

This change didn't happen over night. I can't tell you how bad we all felt when the announcement came down that Wilmington would be building the new LS, and that the Sky would eventually go there too. Now that's all gone. Its just an empty building getting new equipment to build another GM vehicle.

The future for us here in Spring Hill is a bitter sweet. We lost Saturn, but we will still be working building the crossover. We didn't loose our jobs to a plant overseas or across the border. We will be here building cars, and things will go on. New styles of Saturn are coming out all the time. I'm proud to say that here in this little town, nestled in the rolling hills of middle Tennessee, we changed the way cars were being built, how the dealers sold them, and how people accepted a little car named Saturn.

You can take away the signs. You can change the location of where Saturns are built. But for us old guys, just like proud parents, you can't take away the fact that the Saturn was born, grew up, and moved out of the house here in Spring Hill to become a great car.

Source: Worker at GM Plant in Spring Hill, TN

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Astra to be Available in Canada Before U.S.

Americans interested in being the first to purchase – or just ogle over – the all-new 2008 Saturn Astra at a retail facility will need to head north of the border. While the official U.S. launch date for the Astra is still set for January 2nd 2008, SaturnFans.com has learned that the first Astras bound for North America will be available later this month in Canada.