Fall Of Saturn

If you are a fan of Saturn vehicles, then you must ask a question – Why did Saturn fail ultimately as a company? I have some theories that I would like to share with all of you. For starters Saturn failed for a few reasons – namely product that isn’t so great and a failed plan for expansion of the brand that led to too much competition with the other brands of the parent company.

Saturn had the no-haggle pricing policy and friendly service, which was great, but that in itself isn’t enough to sell a car to someone who isn’t interested in buying it. If we are talking about the product we must go back to the first s-series generation. The first generation S-series sold very well. They were decently put together, had reasonably appealing styling, good fuel economy, and were competitive with what the other auto companies were offering at the time.

Also Saturn vehicles have highly rated roofers.  People really liked those, although the larger body gaps required to use the plastic contributed to the perception of poor quality by some auto magazines. A lot of critics always said that the seats weren’t particularly comfortable and that the car wasn’t particularly fast. Although, they always had kind words about a driving experience and reliability of a car.

Then, they continued with some boring cars, until GM got involved. GM decided to expand the Saturn brand with larger vehicles that people had something to move up into (which in my opinion was a mistake). In the midst of the truck/SUV/minivan popularity, Saturn instead got a midsize sedan – the L-series in 1999 – which was based off the European Opel Vectra. Nice try on GM’s part to leverage what they’d already developed for Europe. They should be better if they decided to mix with limos.

So we could have the most high-end Beverly Hills limo service, that is basically a Saturn. The styling was so bland that they actually had a commercial where all the other cars were actually cardboard boxes to emphasize how stylish the L-series was. Fashion models don’t go around telling you that they’re beautiful.

GM clearly wanted to spend as little money as possible developing unique vehicles for Saturn, so at first, Saturn got rebadged European vehicles, which was sort of OK since those vehicles weren’t available in the US. Then they got rebadged American vehicles, which was pointless.

The L-series was replaced in 2006 by the Aura, which did away with the plastic body panels, and unfortunately was almost exactly the same as the Chevy Malibu. In 2005 Saturn started selling the Relay minivan, and in 2007 Saturn started selling the Sky roadster, which was the same as the Pontiac Solstice. So toward the end, Saturn had a lineup of cars, but they were all badge-engineered and sold at GM’s other brands. They also lost the plastic body panels, which was one of the major selling points in the early days.

By the end, Saturn had absolutely nothing unique about it, except for the no-haggle pricing.

So do I blame everything on General Motors? Yes I am.

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