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Northstar

What if the new Saturns were Olds?

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I was trying to figure out why the new Saturns aren't selling very well, and it occurred to me that the answer is more or less pretty obvious: People aren't used to going to Saturn to buy a family sedan or big family SUV/crossover. They also aren't used to going to Saturn to buy a roadster, but the SKY is so sexy people have taken notice. People are only used to going to Saturn to buy small cars and small SUVs/crossovers.

Now, here is my theory: If the Aura was named "Intrigue," "Alero," or "Cutlass" it would be selling much better and the same goes for the Outlook if it were named Bravada (under the Olds name).

Now, do I think eventually people will start associating Saturn with any sort of car as they do Honda and Toyota? Yes, but it's going to take a lot of time, effort, and money to do so. If Olds had not been killed but rather "combined" with Saturn into one "group," GM would be seeing much more success with the new Saturns. Does anyone else feel the same way? The Aura is the best midsize GM car, and the Outlook is a fantastic crossover, but they aren't selling worth a damn (and piling up on lots - so it's not a supply issue). People aren't used to shopping at Saturn for their family sedan or soccer mom vehicle, and therefore I think they don't even research if Saturn has a vehicle in those segments or even go to a Saturn dealership to see what they have.

In the end, all will probably work on fine (5 years or so), but GM would be seeing much better sales from the Aura and Outlook if they were Oldsmobiles, I feel. It would be more profitable for GM now if they had kept Olds, and they wouldn't have had to spend billions of dollars shutting them down.

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If Saturn were Olds they would have the dealer network to support the sales expected of them.

Everyone says this, and while it may be part of the problem, it is not keeping them from selling a large amount of cars. Take, for example, 2005. Saturn sold 100k IONs and 92k VUEs (for comparison, 130k Equinox's were sold and 212k Cobalts and the Chevy's are much more highly fleeted).

This year, Saturn is only on pace to sell 52k Auras, and even if the Outlook sells at the same pace for the rest of the year as it did in March (it's best month so far) it will only manage around 25k units (less actually). The Aura and Outlook are much better and more competitive vehicles than the ION or VUE ever were, they just happen to be more upscale and more expensive vehicles in segments that Saturn has never competed in before.

Saturn could use more dealers, but they have enough and all are located in major areas (i.e. you aren't going to see a Saturn dealer out in the middle of nowhere but it's pretty common to see a Chevy dealer out in the middle of nowhere) that 85% of car buyers are within reasonable driving distance (45-60 miles) of a Saturn dealership. People will travel today to buy a car. I know there are people who travel through multiple states to get the best deals on GTOs (one guy went from Flordia to Michigan to get a new '06 for $24200), so I don't feel a lack of dealerships is the problem. There are only about 100k people where I live and there are 3 Saturn dealerships within an hour drive. A quick look at Chicago-area Saturn dealers yields at least 12 Saturn dealers in Chicago or in suburbs of Chicago. I think that 12+ dealers in plenty in a major metropolitan area. If there were only 2, or even 5, we'd have a problem.

I don't think a lack of dealers is the problem because 1) The VUE and ION both have sold close to or above 100k units/year recently 2) The reason the "older" brands have more dealers does not mean they reach more people. There are countless Chevy dealers out in the middle of nowhere, and it's not worth it for GM to set up a Saturn franchise when they might get 2 sales/month in that location. If there are 3 Saturn dealers within an hour of where I live I think that reaches plenty of people.

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If Saturn were Olds they would have the dealer network to support the sales expected of them.

This is true, as Saturn's other big problem is the lack of dealers when compared with other brands. The closest Saturn to me is more than a half hour away, while there's a Dodge and a Ford dealership only a few minutes away in my town.

They're other problem is what NorthStar mentioned: people just aren't used to paying that much for a Saturn. It may take another generation of vehicles for people to notice how good Saturn is. GM can't except sales to be set on fire right away. It just takes time. People will come around.

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This is true, as Saturn's other big problem is the lack of dealers when compared with other brands. The closest Saturn to me is more than a half hour away, while there's a Dodge and a Ford dealership only a few minutes away in my town.

But would you not be willing to travel 30 minutes to go look at a car that you were considering for your next car (aka making sure you get what you want when you're spending $15-30k)? We bought the GTO at a dealer about 45 miles away...

People will go to where the best deals are, and while all Saturn dealers are going to have the same "deals" with no-haggle pricing, chances are people are will to go to dealers up to an hour away if it means they could save a couple grand by doing so.

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No haggle is biting them in the ass! Why would I want to go to a Saturn dealer (Retailer :rolleyes:), when they don't haggle on price or allow me to use my GM card. When I can go to my GMC/Pontiac dealer and get the same vehicles at a lower price(Acadia/G6). I would be able to haggle, use my GM card, there are more and better incentives and more service centers (dealerships) incase I was in the middle of nowhere and needed help. The choice is simple. :smilewide:

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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No haggle is biting them in the ass! Why would I want to go to a Saturn dealer (Retailer :rolleyes:), when they don't haggle on price or allow me to use my GM card. When I can go to my GMC/Pontiac dealer and get the same vehicles(Acadia/G6). I would be able to haggle, use my GM card, there are more and better incentives and more service centers (dealerships) incase I was in the middle of nowhere and needed help. The choice is simple. :smilewide:

I agree about the haggle part, as well. However, some people do like the no-haggle experience (less stress I guess?) of buying a car. Not sure about the service part... I never take the GTO to the Pontiac dealer but instead the Chevy/Cadillac dealer. I think any GM dealer would be able to service the mechanically-similar Saturns.

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I agree about the haggle part, as well. However, some people do like the no-haggle experience (less stress I guess?) of buying a car. Not sure about the service part... I never take the GTO to the Pontiac dealer but instead the Chevy/Cadillac dealer. I think any GM dealer would be able to service the mechanically-similar Saturns.

However only the Saturn dealer can do warranty work on a Saturn.

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I do agree with P-C-S about the GM card points. While I do like both the Aura and Sky, the inability to use my substantial accumulation of GM card point will give me pause.

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I do agree with P-C-S about the GM card points. While I do like both the Aura and Sky, the inability to use my substantial accumulation of GM card point will give me pause.

This made sense when Saturn was 'independent,' but not anymore IMO.

I know we've been through talks like these before and the truth remains the same: Saturn would've had a bigger dealer network and more 'acceptability' to charge what they're charging now. People were used to $30-36k Oldsmobiles since the mid-90s and they sold respectably.

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This made sense when Saturn was 'independent,' but not anymore IMO.

I know we've been through talks like these before and the truth remains the same: Saturn would've had a bigger dealer network and more 'acceptability' to charge what they're charging now. People were used to $30-36k Oldsmobiles since the mid-90s and they sold respectably.

It's your $30,000. Demand Better.

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It's your $30,000. Demand Better.

:lol:

That was classic!!

Rick Wagoner said no brand is sacred. They have invested heavily in bring Opels here. If this brand was Oldsmobile, they could sell those cars, they could have brought the Holden Caprice here too on top of that. Oldsmobile maybe would have had a full sized car, a mid sized car and more. Who knows..

Bob Lutz said if this does not work, they do not know what to do with Saturn. It would not be too hard to change the cars to Oldsmobiles. the grilles are almost there any way and so are the tail lamps. Astra would have to go to Pontiac or Chevy.

Edited by NINETY EIGHT REGENCY
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currently lots of investment dollars, engineering dollars, marketing dollars are being spent to give Saturn an image. The argument for keeping Saturn alive was that it was easier to give an image to a brand that had no image than to fix one of the other multiply damaged and cheap brands, all of this according to GM's own research.

In other words, Saturn has no resonance in people's minds. Some people may think of the plastic panels or the friendly atmosphere, if they can think at all about it, and even then, it's more of a gimmick than a serious car line with seriously credible and safe alternatives. In other people's minds, who have looked at Saturn for the Vue or Ion, they just need time getting accustomed to the fact that Saturn has credible product in other segments now.

People care about safety. This is a 25,000 purchase; you're not just going to throw your money away on something you know nothing about. We know about Saturn, because we are hardcore enthusiasts who read about this everyday. We are not good examples. People care about the legacy of the brand.

The fact of the matter is, there are plenty good options out there from brands people trust. Too good is what I would call the competition. If aura is the best midsize sedan to us, then it is the one just trying to make a name for itself to others.

It's an issue of comfort. When you see something enough, it becomes second nature to you. This is the idea that lead to Don Imus' racist words; it's the same in the car world. People are comfortable choosing something that is innately all around them. Saturn is not, has not and will not for the forseeable future qualify for that.

If Aura were a Honda; it would likely be selling 400k a year. [but then we wouldn't have the fit/finish issues ;) ] But then they'd have a comfort zone that people can play with there.

Lack of dealers is hurting them. The general public simply doesn't want to deal with the inconvenience of going very far to look for their cars [in urban areas]. In rural areas it's different. The problem is Toyota and Honda make great cars, along with Nissan, Mazda, Ford even, etc etc...and their dealers are easily accessible. There are too many options, so if people have searched through three of the most renowned brands, they feel they've gotten the best of what they could get.

The no haggle helps dramatically. I just saw an Outlook ad that promotes the car's Saturn-ness. This is incredibly important. There actually is haggling there, I mean you can negotiate, there is no dealer that would turn away a chance at profit because of principal. It's corporate policy, but it doesn't mean you can't haggle, in a friendly way. And I'm sure dealer policy is different for every dealer with regards to the GM card.

It will take another generation of product for people to think of Saturn as more than just a marketing gimmick, more than just some forgettable airy commercials. It will take great advertising that takes advantage of Saturn's brief but incredibly reputable years on the market. It will take a new incredibly stylish Aura, and a new Sky.....to build a legacy for each of those cars, and convince them that Saturn is more than just a reliable and cute SUV and a small car.

In the meantime, I expect big increases in the sales over the coming months, and years. Every new car that is released will help. The new Vue and new Astra will get showroom traffic increased like no one's business.

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No haggle is biting them in the ass! Why would I want to go to a Saturn dealer (Retailer :rolleyes:), when they don't haggle on price or allow me to use my GM card. When I can go to my GMC/Pontiac dealer and get the same vehicles at a lower price(Acadia/G6). I would be able to haggle, use my GM card, there are more and better incentives and more service centers (dealerships) incase I was in the middle of nowhere and needed help. The choice is simple. :smilewide:

This point is kind of laughable for me.

Since when can you haggle at a car dealer? They'll just show you the door (at least in my experience)

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I like the Aura's interior, but find the exterior boring. And I have noticed the local Saturn dealership running out of room to park new vehicles. I prefer the Outlook to the Acadia for looks and wish it were selling better v. it's platform mate. No-haggle is going to be a harder sell on more expensive vehicles than it was on the late, great S-series. The GM card points don't help the situation, but Saturn is trying to conquest the imports, people who don't have a GM card, so it's hard to assess the real harm.
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no-haggle did have its disadvantages....when my mom went to go buy her SL1...she want to lease it for $200 a month...in order to get it down to that they had to remove the cassette and put AM/FM radio...haggling atleast would've got them a cassette player...but we really have no complaints...the car is just boring now.

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ah, the monthly "if only they hadn't killed olds, and instead spent every penny that went to saturn on olds instead" thread... :deadhorse:

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I like the Aura's interior, but find the exterior boring.

Sorry ocn, but I have to disagree with you here. I had the boring GM car before the AURA - the '04 Chevy Malibu. I find the AURA to be a better looker than the current Malibu and G6 (look at the side profile of the G6 compared to the AURA's side profile and you'll see what I mean). And while the new '08 Malibu is lightyears ahead of the '04-'07 Malibu, to me it looks like a rebodied AURA with new front- and rear ends. I can't help but stare at my AURA whenever it's parked in the garage. I find it's shape more pleasing than either the current Malibu (too blocky) or G6 (too long).
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There's a reason GM did not retain the Oldsmobile name, Oldsmobile represented the past ("it WAS your father's Olsmobile"), whereas Saturn represented an image that was more fresh and exciting!

As far as "no haggling" goes, when I purchased my 2007 Saturn Aura on March 31, 2007, there WAS definitely some haggling. Initially, the Saturn dealer told me with $3500 down, the price would be about $400 per month for 48 months. I told the Saturn dealer that the local Ford dealer was going to put me into a comparably equipped Ford Fusion for $375/mo (all true), same terms. The Saturn dealer reeled me in by agreeing to a $380 per month payment, and I couldn't be happier to be a satisfied Saturn customer. I LOVE my Aura.

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PUHLEASE...........They negotiate/haggle/barter just like every other dealer. The old "just called my wholesaler and got $500 more for your trade," line has been used, padding the trades, its' all good.

If the Aura was the new Alero and the Outlook the Bravada, my sales would be UP this year instead of down. I'll bet they would be moving more than 4k Auras a month under the Olds banner.

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There's a reason GM did not retain the Oldsmobile name, Oldsmobile represented the past ("it WAS your father's Olsmobile"), whereas Saturn represented an image that was more fresh and exciting!

As far as "no haggling" goes, when I purchased my 2007 Saturn Aura on March 31, 2007, there WAS definitely some haggling. Initially, the Saturn dealer told me with $3500 down, the price would be about $400 per month for 48 months. I told the Saturn dealer that the local Ford dealer was going to put me into a comparably equipped Ford Fusion for $375/mo (all true), same terms. The Saturn dealer reeled me in by agreeing to a $380 per month payment, and I couldn't be happier to be a satisfied Saturn customer. I LOVE my Aura.

it's beautiful. love that color. How do you like the suspension? I recently drove a G6 that I wasn't so impressed with, I guess it was the regular V6 3500 version.
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it's beautiful. love that color. How do you like the suspension? I recently drove a G6 that I wasn't so impressed with, I guess it was the regular V6 3500 version.

Thanks, the black "onyx" color makes the car handsome, according to my neighbor. My second choice was the bluish-gray color ("ocean mist").

The suspension is stiff, more like a sports car. Its not ultra-smooth like a Caddy or a Lincoln Town Car, a different ride altogether, but the car is fun to drive and gets noticed.

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