General Motors (GM) made the Saturn automobile from 1985 to 2010. It came as a response to the growing popularity of small, fuel-efficient cars from the Japanese. The “Everyman” basic transportation had counterparts earlier in American auto manufacturing.
A New Concept
In 1985, GM created a new subsidiary, Saturn Corporation, to oversee the development and production of the new car. The first Saturn vehicle, the Saturn SL, was introduced in 1990. The Saturn SL was a compact car with a unique polymer body panel construction that was designed to resist dents and corrosion.
Saturn’s innovative marketing campaign emphasized customer satisfaction and the brand’s “no-haggle” pricing policy. This helped make the brand a success. Saturn dealerships were designed to be customer-friendly and were often located in suburban malls.
Here are the most successful Saturn models in descending order based on their sales numbers:
Saturn S-Series: The S-Series was the first line of cars introduced by Saturn in 1991, and it remained in production until 2002. It was a compact car that was available as a sedan, coupe, and wagon. The S-Series was the most successful model in Saturn’s history, with over 2 million units sold.
Saturn Ion: The Ion was introduced in 2003 as a replacement for the S-Series. It was also a compact car and was available as a sedan or a coupe. The Ion was popular among younger buyers and was the second most successful model in Saturn’s history, with over 623,000 units sold.
Saturn Vue: The Vue was a compact SUV that was introduced in 2002. It was available with either a four-cylinder or a V6 engine, and it was popular for its comfortable ride and spacious interior. The Vue was the third most successful model in Saturn’s history, with over 530,000 units sold.
Saturn Outlook: The Outlook was a mid-size crossover SUV that was introduced in 2006. It was praised for its spacious interior and comfortable ride, and it was available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The Outlook was the fourth most successful model in Saturn’s history, with over 122,000 units sold.
Saturn Sky: The Sky was a two-seat sports car that was introduced in 2006. It was praised for its attractive styling and fun-to-drive nature. The Sky was the fifth most successful model in Saturn’s history, with over 34,000 units sold.
Despite its early success, Saturn began to struggle financially in the early 2000s. Saturn faced a number of challenges throughout its history that made it difficult for the brand to become profitable.
First, Saturn was a relatively new brand, launched by GM in the 1980s at a time when Japanese automakers had already established themselves in the US market. As a result, Saturn had to invest heavily in marketing and advertising to gain traction and establish brand recognition.
Second, Saturn’s unique approach to manufacturing and customer service was costly. The brand used a unique polymer body panel construction that was designed to resist dents and corrosion, which was more expensive than traditional steel bodies. Additionally, Saturn dealerships were designed to be customer-friendly and were often located in suburban malls, which was more expensive than traditional dealership models.
Third, Saturn faced intense competition from other automakers, particularly Japanese automakers like Toyota and Honda, which had a reputation for producing reliable, fuel-efficient cars. While Saturn’s quality and reliability were generally good, the brand struggled to compete with the established reputation of Japanese automakers.
Fourth, GM’s management of Saturn was inconsistent over the years. The brand was initially given a high degree of autonomy, but in the early 2000s, GM began to integrate Saturn more closely into its overall operations. This led to tension between Saturn and other GM brands and a loss of focus on Saturn’s unique brand identity.
Finally, GM’s overall financial struggles in the 2000s also impacted Saturn’s profitability. As GM faced declining sales and rising costs, the company cut back on investment in Saturn, making it difficult for the brand to remain competitive. GM itself nearly failed during the 2008 Financial Crisis.
Saturn continued to produce vehicles until 2009, when GM filed for bankruptcy. In 2010, the Saturn brand was officially discontinued
- Year Started: 1985
- Year Ended: 2010
- Origin Of Name: Evoking qualities of strength, reliability, and tradition
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: General Motors
- Owner While In Use: General Motors
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Toyota
- Naics Code: 336110
- Location Headquarters: Spring Hill, Tennessee USA