Saturn – Not What It Used to Be

Saturn isn't doing near as well as it used to. The company use to be a case study in brand loyalty – consumers loved the cars, but somewhere along the line they slipped.

Through November, sales of Saturn vehicles totaled 251,994, a 2.6 percent decline from the first 11 months of 2002. GM doesn't post Saturn's financial results separately. The company acknowledges that it lost money in 11 of its past 13 years and that losses in the past year or so have topped $1 billion.

Saturn's creation in 1985 reflected the No. 1 automaker's determination to figure out how Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. were attracting GM's customers. GM hoped to use its considerable financial clout to duplicate a Japanese-style manufacturing system. The automaker offered a no-layoff contract to induce the union's support.

I think it is a bad move to put Saturn under the GM name. Being separate was one of Saturn's advantages. I guess this is GM's way of cutting costs, but my guess is that it won't do much for market share.

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