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GM reassures dealers only Hummer brand is for sale

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DETROIT, July 8 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp is not planning a sale of any of its brands other than the Hummer line of SUVs, GM's North American sales chief said in an e-mail to the automaker's U.S. dealers.

Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president for North American sales and marketing, said none of GM's brands other than Hummer were up for sale or being considered as candidates for closure, despite growing speculation to the contrary.

"I have been asked by the media if other brands were undergoing a similar strategic review. My answer then and now was the same -- no," LaNeve said in his e-mail.

LaNeve said GM's dealers would be among the first to know if plans changed for any of the company's eight auto brands.

"Similar to the Hummer situation we would communicate with you, our dealers, very early in the process if this was the case," he said.

A GM spokesman said the message was meant to reassure the dealers.

"What prompted the letter was all of this speculation that we might be looking to phase out or reassess some of our brands," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said.

Saturn, which has been named as one of the most likely brands for review by GM, has the right products in a market fast shifting away from trucks and SUVs, LaNeve said.

The No.1 U.S. automaker has hired Citigroup Inc to help review its options for the military-derived Hummer line, which it said is looking to sell or revamp.

Battered by tumbling demand for large trucks and SUVs since the spring, GM has announced deep cuts in truck production in recent weeks. Analysts are also expecting GM to take other steps to ride out a deepening industry downturn.

GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner has said the automaker is working quickly to develop plans to cut costs and improve its cash position.

GM shares closed up more than 5 percent at $10.78 on Tuesday

"A lot of dealers were concerned, so I think it was a very good thing for him to reassure dealers," said one dealer who received the e-mail from LaNeve.

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Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president for North American sales and marketing, said none of GM's brands other than Hummer were up for sale or being considered as candidates for closure

<_< Mr. LaNeve's pants are on fire.

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The only other division that they could possibly sell is Saab. Hummer and Saab are the only two brands that have enough of their own distinct identity to actually serve as assets to any other auto company that might purchase them (and Hummer is questionable considering the ever escalating cost of fuel).

I don't think GM would sell Chevrolet or Cadillac (and they would be crazy to do so). Chevrolet is their mainstream, affordable, volume brand and Cadillac is their flagship luxury division.

GMC products are essentially slightly upscale rebadged Chevrolet truck/SUV clones (with the exception of the Acadia, which is a slightly upscale Outlook clone); I can't imagine any other auto company being interested in a midmarket rebadged truck/SUV division with fuel prices continuing to rise (besides, it would seem silly for anyone else to sell products that are badged "GMC" other than GM). Since GMC is combined with Buick and Pontiac and the truck/SUV market has nosedived due to fuel prices, I think GM would be safe to either discontinue GMC entirely or relegate it to selling commercial fleet vehicles only (except I would like to see the Acadia salvaged and transferred to another division). Chevrolet can pretty much handle the rapidly shrinking truck/SUV retail market on its own.

I still think Saturn should be converted to "Opel" when the next generation of Opel products reaches the market. I think GM would be much more successful marketing Opel as a premium Euro chic division than trying to move Saturn upmarket into that position when the division has been saddled with a "cheap & cheerful" brand image in the past. I would even downplay GM's connection to Opel in an attempt to attract buyers who would normally not shop domestic makes (I would play up Opel's European origins). I would bump Buick into a luxury dealer network with Cadillac (Buick focuses on FWD luxury cars/crossovers and Cadillac focuses on RWD luxury cars) and move the newly christened Opel into a premium midmarket dealer network with Pontiac. Opel would focus on FWD cars/MPVs/crossovers from their Euro lineup (the only exception would be transferring the Acadia over to Opel to replace the dorky Outlook). Pontiac would focus on midmarket RWD cars from GM's foreign divisions (Opel/Vauxhall/Holden). By combining Opel with Pontiac, GM would have a larger network in which to introduce U.S. buyers to the great products it offers on the other side of the Atlantic (although the U.S. versions would be assembled in North America).

If GM would sell Hummer and Saab, discontinue or relegate GMC to commercial fleet vehicle sales, and convert Saturn to "Opel", GM would be left with 5 U.S. divisions that could easily be configured into 3 distinct dealer networks that could competently and more efficiently cover all segments of the U.S. auto market.

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Why does everyone at this company value Saturn so much?

No proven results.... Resulted in the death of 1, maybe 2 core brands.... Tons of money spent... No identity... No brand recognition... No equity...

God, GM management is stupid.

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Why does everyone at this company value Saturn so much?

No proven results.... Resulted in the death of 1, maybe 2 core brands.... Tons of money spent... No identity... No brand recognition... No equity...

God, GM management is stupid.

Is it probably because Jilly Girl has other male executives by their balls (idiom usage here)?

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Saturn's value ot GM is in the customer service ratings earned during the sales expereince and the follow-up service expereinces from owners. I have never really liked having to go to the non-Saturn dealerships for service in the past with my other GM cars; taking my Saturns for service have always been a hassle-free and pleasant experience. I believe GM has taken what they've learned from Saturn and started to make the other GM divisions use it; I'm noticing the BPG dealers I've been using over the last 3 years have changed in positive ways.

Is that enough to keep the division alive? I don't think so, but other than a consumer to GM, what does it matter what I think? Apparently something within GM is keeping Saturn to the forefront, and it could be that since this division does not have a LONG history with a majority of American car buyers, maybe GM management feel they can continue to mold Saturn whereas the older divisions it's too late???

I'd be inclined to consider Saturn again when my lease expires in November '09, but that's only if they offer what I need and want at that time. I've had good experience with the two Saturns I've owned, I like the look of the styling direction Saturn is going in, and again the dealer & service experiences have been some of the best I've had since I started leasing new cars back in 1999. Maybe other Saturn owners feel the same way I do, and GM knows it? On the other hand, almost every expereince <not all> I've had with a Chevrolet dealer has been the opposite, and I dread their service departments. One of the reasons why I don't look forward to having to purchase a Chevy in the future. GM needs to work with ALL the Chvey dealers to learn from Saturn, then maybe I'd be willing to deal with Chevy again.

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Yep. Saturn should be added to PBG as a low-end, no-optioned small car brand with all the excellent customer service programs kept in place. No doubt many of the Saturn dealers would be the ones doing the acquiring.

Saturn's value ot GM is in the customer service ratings earned during the sales expereince and the follow-up service expereinces from owners.
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Yep. Saturn should be added to PBG as a low-end, no-optioned small car brand with all the excellent customer service programs kept in place. No doubt many of the Saturn dealers would be the ones doing the acquiring.

:yes:

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What about the whole CAFE shakedown?? If Hummer must go because of fuel prices, Saturn is semi-logical to stay, at least for that reason. If the Outlook is discontinued, what would Saturn's current MPG average be vs. the other divisions?

IMO, the whole idea of renaming Saturn 'Opel' will fail, as has every other thrust of Opel product into the NA market short of the late '50s.

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Why does everyone at this company value Saturn so much?

No proven results.... Resulted in the death of 1, maybe 2 core brands.... Tons of money spent... No identity... No brand recognition... No equity...

God, GM management is stupid.

Agreed. First Saturn was a dent resistant door car for young people on a budget, now they are supposed to be euro-styled and more upscale than Chevy or Pontiac. Saturn with only 1 model in 1994 had better sales than they did in 2007 with 5 models. Saturn fans that complain about lack of dealers are full of crap also. Lexus has fewer dealers and sells more cars than Saturn, and Lexus costs double the money. Saturn, Saab and Hummer need to go away, and GM needs to focus on the core that they have forgotten about.

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