True or false?


#1

Is it true that GM may shut down all the Saturn division? I read this a couple of days ago on car talk, but would like more people’s opion.


#2

No. He was just wondering. Just like I wonder if GM will change the Saturn name back to Oldsmobile. Can anyone prove that Olds is really gone?


#3

It’s possible if things get worse. But right now there are no plans that I know off. Even they did shut down any division, most of the GM cars share platforms with other divisions so parts will be plentiful for many years to come.


#4

Industry analysts have been discussing the issue of downsizing GM’s redundant brand line-up for at least a couple of years, due to GM’s desperate need to reduce operating costs.

First, they wondered if Buick would be eliminated, since that brand’s rapidly aging customer base in the US is dying off, and few younger people in this country view Buick as a “cool” brand. However, the great success of Buick in the growing China market (along with Cadillac) makes it very unlikely that the Buick marque would be eliminated.

Cadillac’s rejuvenated product line is successful in the US, as well as in China, so that marque seems to be secure.

Clearly, Chevrolet continues to have appeal, due to its lower cost status. Oldsmobile is now long gone. So, that leaves only GMC, Saturn, and Pontiac for the chopping block.

Saturn has never made a profit for GM. The Saturn division has essentially lost its way, changing from the plastic-bodied, “maverick” division with its different designs, to its present status as just marketing warmed-over versions of cars that are also sold by other GM divisions.

Pontiac has a slightly different identity (and some different–Australian–designs) than Chevrolet, Saturn, Buick, and Cadillac. The only divisions that are totally redundant at this point are Saturn and GMC, and as result of that fact, coupled with Saturn’s persistent non-profit status, Saturn is the division most likely to be eliminated. Pontiac would likely be next on the chopping block (along with GMC) if elimination of Saturn is not sufficient to help GM’s tottering financial situation.

While I hate to see anyone lose his/her job, the reality is that almost all of the vehicles sold in a Saturn showroom can be bought (with a different nameplate) in other GM showrooms. The only exception is the Astra, which is designed and made by GM’s Opel division, and which would disappear from the US market.

Let’s just say that if I was a Saturn dealer, I would not order a large quantity of letterhead stationery.


#5

From everything I’ve heard there’s a high likelyhood of eliminating Saturn, for the reasons given by VDC, and because the government is demanding proof from GM of substantial restructuring to go along with the bailouts. Saturn has been a failure as a money-making business, just think of what cars Chevrolet could have developed with all that cash!


#6

GMC and Pontiac are very popular in Canada, where at least per-capita car sales are still a bit stronger. It seems like it might be shooting themselves in the foot a little.

I wonder though, since this isn’t like the glory days of GM when each division had their own R&D, Marketing departments, etc how much overhead there actually is involved with keeping a brand and if there’s really that much to be saved by eliminating one. I can’t imagine it’s all that much more than just the cost of operating the machine that makes the badges and printing off some different glossies.


#7

You’re right, developing duplicate cars isn’t that costly. The big costs come with supporting all the duplicate models with enough marketing $$. Honda has one Accord, Toyota one Camry, but how many sedans of about this size does GM have? 10?


#8

Agree; GM is plannng to sell SAAB, phase out Saturn, and make Pontiac a niche brand using Pontiac badged Chevies. GMC, a rebadged Chevy, might be sold in niche markets such as Canada by Buick dealers (to give them a broader product line) at minimal incremental cost.

The big savings are in the reduction of US sold brands and their very expensive US marketing support. In Malaysia all GM cars sold are Chevrolets, including the old Lumina (still made in Australia), all the Korean Daewoo models, and selected imports from Germany’s Opel division. I understand in China, all GM cars are Buicks, since that brand had a good reputation there as a reult of a popular communist leader being very fond of it.


#9

There has been talk that Saturn, which has never made but always lost money, and Hummer will go away and Saab might be sold off but nothing is set in stone as of now.


#10

Didn’t the Swedish Government step in a prop SAAB up (even though parts are private and foreign owned) something of a national pride issue?

In regards to Saturn,isn’t GM going to require all Saturns be returned sort of a EV1 thing?..Ha ha


#11

I think GM may have had too many divisions as far back as 1959. GM, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, advertised a “car for every pocketbook”. Each division had its own price niche. Furthermore, the engines were all different. In the early 1950’s and before, Chevrolet had a splash lubricated overhead valve 6, Pontiac offered an inline flathead 6 and flathead 8. Oldsmobile had just developed a short stroke overhead valve V-8 as had Cadillac. Buick had an overhead valve inline 8. When Buick, Chevrolet and Pontiac introduced overhead valve V-8 engines, these engines were all different. The automatic transmissions were different–Chevrolet and Buick depended on a torque converter for torque multiplication while Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Cadillac used a 4 speed automatic coupled to the engine with a fluid coupling. There were three basic bodies–A, B and C. The models introduced new styling at different times. Chevrolet and Pontiac offered new styling in 1953–Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac offered new styling in 1954. Chevrolet and Pontiac offered new styling in 1955–Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac offfered new styling in 1957. In 1959, all models adopted the same basic body shell. In the late 1970’s, Oldsmobiles started appearing with Chevrolet engines. It wasn’t long before the only real difference was in the nameplates.

The Saturn started to be its own automobile. This didn’t last long–it suddenly had models that were rebadged from something else. The Saturn Relay minivan is a Chevrolet Uplander. A rebadged Pontiac Solstice has a Saturn version. The divisions used to compete with each other and the competition, IMHO, made GM strong. What is happening now is that the commpetition is gone and the public sees that all models are the same.

Even the truck divisions were different in the 1950’s. A GMC pick-up had a 6 cylinder engine that was diffeent than the Chevrolet 6 cylinder engine. Before the Chevrolet V-8, some hot rodders would install a GMC 6 cylinder pick-up in a Chevrolet car. This car was known as a “Jimmy” Chevrolet. In 1955, Chevrolet installed a version of its V-8 engine in its pickup. GMC countered by installing a version of the Pontiac V-8 in the GMC pick-up truck. Now these pick-up lines are almost identical.

As I stated earlier, I think GM lost its strength when it made all the cars the same and there was no competition beween the divisions. I could go on and on about how Buick used coil springs all around and had an enclosed driveshaft, while Oldsmobile had leaf springs in the rear and had an open driveshaft, or how in later 1950’s, all GM cars except Buick started by twisting the ignition key. The Buick was started by stepping on the accelerator pedal. These differences helped GM capture 50% of the market. When GM made all its lines about the same, it dropped to under 30% of the market.


#12

They might sell it, run it as is or close it. If you can wait long enough, you’ll find out.