California Autos Examiner

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Could Saturn Be Integrated Into Buick/Pontiac/GMC?

Sigh, how do you solve a problem like Saturn? I doubt that Julie Andrews would be able to help, but perhaps BPG dealers could? That's one scenario being floated by GM as it wrestles with one of its problem brands. The trouble for the General is that the money losing brand simply cannot gain any traction in the marketplace.

If GM were to pair Saturn with BPG, it is my belief that Saturn would aim for smaller vehicles. Corsa, Meriva and Astra (pictured above) are names that come to mind when looking over Opel's lineup. Now you might argue that the Astra hasn't done very well here in the States, however I maintain that it isn't so much the car's fault as it was a hurried, low cost effort to bring it here and a scant marketing budget once the car arrived. When I test drove the Astra for a week, only one person had a vague idea of what it was, but everyone who saw it, liked it. If the Astra were custom fitted to American tastes and displayed on more numerous BPG dealership lots, it were fair much better. Think of it this way, does it makes sense to have a Cobalt knockoff Pontiac G5 or a Saturn exclusive Astra? Why compete directly with the Chevrolet dealer next door? The underpinnings of the current Cobalt and Astra are similar, but they a very different vehicles. That kind of differentiation makes sense to me.

Of course, they might shut the brand down, but it that option isn't without significant costs. GM is going to have to make its mind quickly in order to meet government imposed deadlines. The company seems resolved to fashion Saab into a stand alone brand by centralizing manufacturing back in Sweden in an effort to make it more saleable and Hummer might yet be sold. That leaves Saturn as a truly different kind of division, a distinction I'm sure that it would love to lose.

No comments: