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LaNeve: Saturn could survive

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"If we just wanted to shut it down, we could have announced that," Mark LaNeve said during the NADA convention. "Saturn may very well have a place" within GM. That's from an article in the Detroit News.

LaNeve evidently commented that the study of Saturn involves about 20 options, and that GM is trying to find a way to make the brand profitable. It has lost money in all but one year since its 1990 debut. That's from an article in Automotive News.

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It hasn't made money in the past 19 years, it won't in the next 19. Time to shut it down, give the resources and money to Chevy so they can actually compete with the Fit, Civic and Odyssey and get an Impala that is more like the 2010 Taurus.

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Scrap all their current models and planned models, then bring out a real successor to the S-cars, including polymer panels.

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"It would be nice if they realized the strength of Saturn," said Dan Jonuska, a Scottsdale dealer who is a member of Saturn's Franchise Operating Team, which is in talks with GM about the brand's future. "It's a strong brand without a lot of dealers. We know how to sell small cars, which are perceived as green," or more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly.

Bingo!

Saturn ISN'T Oldsmobile... Saturn ISN'T Opel... Saturn IS small cars. (which I guess would be Opel too... But you get the picture :))

GM needs to be: Chevrolet, Buick/GMC, Cadillac, Pontiac & Saturn. Or, Chevrolet, Buick/GMC, Cadillac, Pontiac & Saab.

They need small car expertise and a brand that isn't 'traditional Detroit'

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Scrap all their current models and planned models, then bring out a real successor to the S-cars, including polymer panels.

Seconded. Make Saturn Saturn again, not a warmed over Pontiac/Chevy.

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Seconded. Make Saturn Saturn again, not a warmed over Pontiac/Chevy.

I also think this would be awesome to see. Advances in materials hopefully would allow for panels that have reduced gaps, while costing less. A new S-Series could include the ecotec engines (great engines, no need to have Saturn engineering their own this round). Include a quad coupe, sedan, and wagon, all at around 2500lbs and getting at least 40mpg highway, and start them off at a very low entry price. Also make them simple to work on like the original.

I'm not holding my breath though - setting up a polymer production facility again is an extra investment that GM probably isn't excited to make right now.

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Maybe the Volt should have gone to Saturn, that way they could continue to build a green image. Chevy has lots of small cars already.

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Maybe the Volt should have gone to Saturn, that way they could continue to build a green image. Chevy has lots of small cars already.

While the Volt will go to Chevy, the technology it uses can (and should) go everywhere in GM. Besides, didn't Saturn show a concept with `Voltech.'

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Huh?

Lemme get this straight? GM is teetering on the edge--has accepted $billions from our pockets and SWORE they were going to come up with a plan to right the ship.

So, they're going to save a brand they've NEVER made money on and have wasted $billions in the past few years on...smart stuff. Why not do the same for Hummer, Saab & Pontiac, too...oops, too late, that's what they are rumored to do with those as well--Narrow the portfolio.

Where's the profound change promised?

Why wasn't Fiat approached? Saturn dealers would be perfect for Fiat, Alfa & Lancia distribution---without Chrysler's immence baggage. I'm sure if Fiat would take 35% of a loser with crazy liabilities and a tarnished reputation, they would have gladly taken 100% of Saturn, with a dead GM factory thrown in for free, right?

Idiots--all of 'em.

Edited by enzl
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Huh?

Lemme get this straight? GM is teetering on the edge--has accepted $billions from our pockets and SWORE they were going to come up with a plan to right the ship.

So, they're going to save a brand they've NEVER made money on and have wasted $billions in the past few years on...smart stuff. Why not do the same for Hummer, Saab & Pontiac, too...oops, too late, that's what they are rumored to do with those as well--Narrow the portfolio.

Where's the profound change promised?

Why wasn't Fiat approached? Saturn dealers would be perfect for Fiat, Alfa & Lancia distribution---without Chrysler's immence baggage. I'm sure if Fiat would take 35% of a loser with crazy liabilities and a tarnished reputation, they would have gladly taken 100% of Saturn, with a dead GM factory thrown in for free, right?

Idiots--all of 'em.

a) show me where Saturn has lost billions in the last few years.

b) The sale of Saturn wouldn't have included any product or manufacturing facilities. Remember, Spring Hill builds the Traverse. It's also a terrific factory in terms of quality and productivity. Where is this "dead" factory? Or were you saying to randomly throw in some shuttered factory?

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a) show me where Saturn has lost billions in the last few years.

b) The sale of Saturn wouldn't have included any product or manufacturing facilities. Remember, Spring Hill builds the Traverse. It's also a terrific factory in terms of quality and productivity. Where is this "dead" factory? Or were you saying to randomly throw in some shuttered factory?

Wilmington, maybe?

(Will be dead when the Kappas are moved or quited)

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a) show me where Saturn has lost billions in the last few years.

b) The sale of Saturn wouldn't have included any product or manufacturing facilities. Remember, Spring Hill builds the Traverse. It's also a terrific factory in terms of quality and productivity. Where is this "dead" factory? Or were you saying to randomly throw in some shuttered factory?

GM admits that Saturn basically hasn't been profitable---I'm fairly certain its been disclosed by a number of GM flacks. The volume planning for the new product: Sky, Outlook, Vue, Aura and Astra have all missed volume targets by a wide margin. All have been marketplace misses---there's your billions right there---and that's just recent history!

And any factory will do...Spring Hill being converted to produce the Traverse ruined an opportunity to package Saturn and its USP in a sale to another automaker.

GM desperately needs changes at the top. RW and all of his cronies should be out. Lutz should be limited to product decisions and Nothing Else. (And he will have to fly coach from now on.)

Saturn & Profits:

"The question of Saturn's profitability nags. The brand refuses to reveal its financial status, but it is believed it has never been profitable or only marginally so, at best, in some years. GM’s investments in Saturn – from getting it established to feeding it with new models of late – has been massive. And GM’s investment in Saturn is far from over. As it introduces new and freshened vehicles, it must immediately prepare for replacements of those to keep Saturn’s line constantly fresh. When and how much GM will receive as a return on its investment is unknown."[/i]

http://www.autoobserver.com/2007/02/saturn...nst-toyota.html

From Wards Auto in '02:

Record Sales Don’t Deliver Saturn Profitability

Brian Corbett

WardsAuto.com, Sep 24, 2002 12:00 PM

AUSTIN, TX – Even with the new Ion small car being introduced in October and predictions for a record sales total in 2002, General Motors Corp.’s Saturn unit remains unprofitable.

From Edmunds:

Time's Up! Saturn Has Everything It Needs To Turn a Profit

By Frank S. Washington Email

Date posted: 09-18-2006

STORY TOOLS

Digg this storyDigg this!

del.icio.usdel.icio.us

Time's up!

In its 16-year existence, there's not a shred of evidence anywhere that would suggest that General Motors' Saturn division has ever turned a profit. There were excuses galore: no product, ho-hum styling, internal friction, pricing too close to Chevrolet, and on it went. But a brutal market has done in every excuse that Saturn had for not making money. Now it's time for the division to add to GM's bottom line.

So, I haven't exactly made the profitability issue up....

Edited by enzl
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What if Saturn just became the new GEO, but not as crappy? Like cheaper, less sporty, MINIs?

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Bingo!

Saturn ISN'T Oldsmobile... Saturn ISN'T Opel... Saturn IS small cars. (which I guess would be Opel too... But you get the picture :))

GM needs to be: Chevrolet, Buick/GMC, Cadillac, Pontiac & Saturn. Or, Chevrolet, Buick/GMC, Cadillac, Pontiac & Saab.

They need small car expertise and a brand that isn't 'traditional Detroit'

GM seemed to think that Saturn could be Oldsmobile. They moved Saturn up market into Oldsmobile's price range, gave it a line up of models that could fit just as easy into the Oldsmobile customers garage, but they forgot one thing:

Brand loyalty: Saturn owners bought small cars with good fuel efficiency and bought into the whole cheesy Saturn family reunion / no haggle price/ different kind of company thing.

Oldsmobile owners wanted Oldsmobiles: Big powerful, technologically advanced cars (Toronado/Aurora/Delta 88) that represented the middle class American dream.

Now Oldsmobile is dead and buried, and Saturn has lost its way in being an Oldsmobile wanna-be.

GM: You killed the Oldsmobile, which means that Buick/Pontiac/Chevy no longer need a 4th twin to everything they build. Why do we have Aura/Outlook/etc when they are neither Saturns nor apparently needed?

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What if GM used their Toyota connection at NUMMI to build a series of compact cars (sedan, 3-door coupe, and tall wagon) on the next gen Corolla platform for Saturn. That way, the Asian import fighting small car brand can compete in the market with cars that were actually codeveloped with an Asian company. It would return Saturn to its original purpose (fighting Asian import mainstream small cars) while still appealing to the brand's customer base (which wouldn't touch any other GM products, from what I understand).

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blah blah blah

But you made up numbers - pulled them right out of your butt like you always do. You ASSume that Saturn lost billions in the last few years alone. You made that up. You do not know that. I never claimed Saturn has been turning a profit in recent years - and you are right that it has been pretty well indicated that it has not. That is NOT the same as being able to say that Saturn has lost GM BILLIONS in the last few years. You have your own opinion/agenda, and I wouldn't be so annoyed with you pushing it if you could back it up with FACTS, instead of lying to push your ideas. Would you opinion change about Saturn if it were revealed that it has been very close to breaking even constantly for the last several years, instead of losing billions like you imagine? Probably not, but it would sure change how a lot of other people look at the situation.

All I am trying to say is to STOP PULLING NUMBERS OUT OF YOUR BUTT. You can have any opinion you want, but back it with facts, not lies or made up numbers (same thing).

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What if GM used their Toyota connection at NUMMI to build a series of compact cars (sedan, 3-door coupe, and tall wagon) on the next gen Corolla platform for Saturn. That way, the Asian import fighting small car brand can compete in the market with cars that were actually codeveloped with an Asian company. It would return Saturn to its original purpose (fighting Asian import mainstream small cars) while still appealing to the brand's customer base (which wouldn't touch any other GM products, from what I understand).

Let me say this in no uncertain terms, the NUMMI DEAL NEEDS TO DIE!

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Let me say this in no uncertain terms, the NUMMI DEAL NEEDS TO DIE!

Ya, I don't see how it's in either company's best interest. GM doesn't need to take on Toyota by building....restyled Toyotas.

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But you made up numbers - pulled them right out of your butt like you always do. You ASSume that Saturn lost billions in the last few years alone. You made that up. You do not know that. I never claimed Saturn has been turning a profit in recent years - and you are right that it has been pretty well indicated that it has not. That is NOT the same as being able to say that Saturn has lost GM BILLIONS in the last few years. You have your own opinion/agenda, and I wouldn't be so annoyed with you pushing it if you could back it up with FACTS, instead of lying to push your ideas. Would you opinion change about Saturn if it were revealed that it has been very close to breaking even constantly for the last several years, instead of losing billions like you imagine? Probably not, but it would sure change how a lot of other people look at the situation.

All I am trying to say is to STOP PULLING NUMBERS OUT OF YOUR BUTT. You can have any opinion you want, but back it with facts, not lies or made up numbers (same thing).

I stand by my statement that Saturn has cost Billions. Now, then, whatever.

I have no agenda. What is yours that YOU feel the need to defend a brand that defines 'useless'?

Even at close to breakeven economically, there's a little something called 'opportunity cost.' You may want look up that term before attacking my opinion or my regurgitation of info that's been out in the public domain for years.

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Ya, I don't see how it's in either company's best interest. GM doesn't need to take on Toyota by building....restyled Toyotas.

But I think that's the plan anyway as GM forsakes everything that makes it successful in it's attempt to emulate THE GREAT ONE.

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I stand by my statement that Saturn has cost Billions. Now, then, whatever.

I have no agenda. What is yours that YOU feel the need to defend a brand that defines 'useless'?

Even at close to breakeven economically, there's a little something called 'opportunity cost.' You may want look up that term before attacking my opinion or my regurgitation of info that's been out in the public domain for years.

I'm well aware of opportunity cost. I'm just amazed that you continue to defend the making up of numbers, and are ignorant to your own agenda, even as you throw you own bias out there in the same sentence.

I have said a number of times that at this point, it may be best to kill Saturn. The difference is I don't make up fake numbers to defend my points, and I consider multiple options. You continue to push your one idea of what GM should look like, and twist or create facts to justify it. Then claim you have no agenda.

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I'm well aware of opportunity cost. I'm just amazed that you continue to defend the making up of numbers, and are ignorant to your own agenda, even as you throw you own bias out there in the same sentence.

I have said a number of times that at this point, it may be best to kill Saturn. The difference is I don't make up fake numbers to defend my points, and I consider multiple options. You continue to push your one idea of what GM should look like, and twist or create facts to justify it. Then claim you have no agenda.

GM has made it clear (and I put links to the first googled links I found) that they aren't making money with Saturn. I never made that up. But a quick assessment of the shortfall in volume will tell you that the number IS billions.

1. How much does the Solstice/Sky plant have in capacity? 40k/yr. How many of these are being sold yearly? This plant, already underutilized, is running at a tenth of what a modern plant needs to make money (200k/yr.) if they missed sales estimated on these models by 50%, and half of those are Saturn Skys, what is the right number? How much is the cost of keeping a factory open to sell 25% of whats needed to make money in the first place?

2. The Astra sells for thousands less here than in Europe. GM is --ahem--selling 1k/mo---what is that losing them?

3. The Aura was supposed to sell at 100k/yr. It's never reached more than half that figure. What is GM losing there?

4. The Outlook was projected at 40k/yr. It's also at half that number. Loss?

You are right in one respect, GM refuses to break out its divisional losses---it treats all as one, basically. But GM has admitted to losses, so what's the difference?

What needs to happen for GM to realize that Saturn, Hummer, Saab and, probably, Pontiac will never recoup future investment? They're zombies, dead, walking corpses, chickens without heads, etc...someone needs to man up, admit it and move on. Spend billions closing these dealers and removing capacity or join these brands on the bottom of the ocean. There's simply no other choice.

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The difference is that the numbers aren't known.

1. You don't know that GM is losing money from running the solstice/sky plant. They might be, but you don't know that. There is certainly an opportunity cost of under-utilizing a plant, and there are fixed costs that aren't dispersed across a large volume of product, but you don't know the numbers. They may be using some lean techniques that keep their fixed costs down, and don't require as much volume of product. I don't know that... but neither do you.

2. I want to say the Astra has been admitted to be a money loser. Let's say they're losing $2k on each one (ouch!). At 1k cars a month, that's $24k loss over a year. Hardly a notable contribution toward a brand losing "Billions". It's still a situation that needs fixed, but it does not significantly contribute toward you made up numbers.

3. Considering the shared costs with the other platform mates, the Aura may not need to sell in great volume to bring a profit. You don't know if the Aura is making or losing money. But of course you want to assume that Saturn is losing tons of money, so you need every car to be losing money, so you assume again that the Aura is. But, if you were honest, you don't know.

4. The outlook again has major shared costs with the other platform mates, especially the Acadia. It may not take much volume to make a profit. But again, you assume it's losing money, because that fits your agenda. But, you don't know that.

Yes, GM has admitted to losses with Saturn. What's the difference? There is a HUGE difference between a brand losing millions and billions. You still unreasonably act as if Pontiac is losing money, when it's not. You want to kill whatever you want to kill, ignoring real, known numbers and making up your own to back up your own ideas of what GM should do.

I'm not necessarily against killing Saturn. It isn't selling in great volume, and it's buyer base has been thoroughly confused. The plan to move the brand upward toward mid-level cars doesn't seem to be working. The brand originally meant to sell small cars has lost sales incrementally with each new iteration of small car (S-Series sold very well, Ion not so much, Astra has been essentially a flop). There are many great reasons to claim GM should kill Saturn that don't require MAKING UP NUMBERS. So please, come back to reality and back your arguments with facts.

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The difference is that the numbers aren't known.

1. You don't know that GM is losing money from running the solstice/sky plant. They might be, but you don't know that. There is certainly an opportunity cost of under-utilizing a plant, and there are fixed costs that aren't dispersed across a large volume of product, but you don't know the numbers. They may be using some lean techniques that keep their fixed costs down, and don't require as much volume of product. I don't know that... but neither do you.

2. I want to say the Astra has been admitted to be a money loser. Let's say they're losing $2k on each one (ouch!). At 1k cars a month, that's $24k loss over a year. Hardly a notable contribution toward a brand losing "Billions". It's still a situation that needs fixed, but it does not significantly contribute toward you made up numbers.

3. Considering the shared costs with the other platform mates, the Aura may not need to sell in great volume to bring a profit. You don't know if the Aura is making or losing money. But of course you want to assume that Saturn is losing tons of money, so you need every car to be losing money, so you assume again that the Aura is. But, if you were honest, you don't know.

4. The outlook again has major shared costs with the other platform mates, especially the Acadia. It may not take much volume to make a profit. But again, you assume it's losing money, because that fits your agenda. But, you don't know that.

Yes, GM has admitted to losses with Saturn. What's the difference? There is a HUGE difference between a brand losing millions and billions. You still unreasonably act as if Pontiac is losing money, when it's not. You want to kill whatever you want to kill, ignoring real, known numbers and making up your own to back up your own ideas of what GM should do.

I'm not necessarily against killing Saturn. It isn't selling in great volume, and it's buyer base has been thoroughly confused. The plan to move the brand upward toward mid-level cars doesn't seem to be working. The brand originally meant to sell small cars has lost sales incrementally with each new iteration of small car (S-Series sold very well, Ion not so much, Astra has been essentially a flop). There are many great reasons to claim GM should kill Saturn that don't require MAKING UP NUMBERS. So please, come back to reality and back your arguments with facts.

Here's a fact: whether millions or billions, why continue to produce product that loses money?

Saturn is a great idea, executed poorly. If you bleed, you address the bleeding. 'A few million here, a few million there'.... all of the sudden, you're talking real $, no?

The changes to Saturn have wrought good product, yet GM doesn't know how to sell them. Saturnistas are looking for s-series successors, not 2 seat roadsters and $40k CUVs.

The absence of pure, incontrovertible evidence doesn't mean the underlying premise isn't true. You're asking me to commit industrial espionage to justify my post?

You'l just have to accept that some people here know more than you do. I've been knee deep in this business for years and I have an extremely sensitive job within the business. Suffice it to say, my employer is public, has Billions in revenue & I have sat in meetings where highly sensitive info is discussed, including Big 3 plans. I've also had off-the-record conversations with Nissan, GM, Chrysler & Toyota people that I simply won't discuss here.

Suffice it to say, I actually do know what I'm talking about...my job isn't worth disclosing info my contacts have given me. You'll just have to live with the fact that Saturn, along with many other GM efforts, is doomed. For excellent, business reasons that should have compelled action years ago.

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The absence of pure, incontrovertible evidence doesn't mean the underlying premise isn't true. You're asking me to commit industrial espionage to justify my post?

I'm asking you to not make assumptions, or state when you are, instead of presenting your guesses as facts.

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