Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturn Needs a New Plan(et)

When Mrs. Kyality and I were just married, one of the first really big things we did was buy a car. We were still in school, so we were definitely relegated to an entry-level vehicle. We looked at used Hondas and Toyotas, even Fords (barf). But everywhere we went—we felt accosted and pressured by slimy, desperate, greedy salesmen who blatantly didn’t care about us or our situation, whatsoever.

At that same time, I was pretty into wagons and I happened to have a thing for little Saturn wagons. Granted Mrs. Kyality wasn’t into them, but it at least got us into the Saturn dealer. It was like night and day! The salesmen weren’t salesmen at all! They were basically young guys who were just like us. Saturn has always employed a no-haggle policy and I cannot even tell you how refreshing that was. Needless to say, we drove a 1999 Saturn SL2 sedan for seven years without any major issues. And now, this once innovative brand is in serious danger of getting whipped off the face of this planet.

Yesterday, GM announced that within two years, they will no longer manufacture Saturn automobiles. What’s significant about this move is that Saturn isn’t a stale GM brand like Oldsmobile or Pontiac. Saturn dealerships were actually set up as independent, standalone businesses. There are 400 Saturn dealerships nationwide and together they out sell a majority of the GM sub-brands.

So can GM afford to lose this spectacular sales channel? Probably not a good idea. Technically, Saturn could simply use GM as a manufacturer and become their own car company. But that requires tons of capital that obviously isn’t available. So the future of Saturn is totally up in the air, the question: what’s next for Saturn?

Well, I’ve got an idea. By comparison, Saturn dealerships are much newer than the typical GM dealership and Saturn has always been a “different” kind of car company. Saturns are known for being lower budget, entry-level cars that are relatively light weight (a.k.a. plastic). In my opinion it’s the perfect launching platform for a line of electric vehicles, whether they’re manufactured by GM or some other company, perhaps even Tesla. You take cars like the Sky Roadster pictured above or the new Astra Coupe, slap torque-happy electric engines in them and Saturn is good to go! In my opinion, the new Saturn should equal no-haggle EV’s for the masses. Wow, who'd of thunk I could write a post about American cars!
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