Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saturn Rings The Bowl

GM announced today that Saturn is being closed down. From an AP report:
General Motors Co. said today that it would shut down its Saturn brand after an agreement with Penske Automotive Group Inc. to acquire it fell apart.

Penske, citing concerns of whether it could continue to supply vehicles after a manufacturing contract with GM ran out, ended talks with GM Wednesday to acquire the brand.

I don't get it. Wasn't the whole point of the GM bailout by the federal government that the plants would stay open? Basically, a big make-work project? This has to be a real kick in the ass to those who worked at Saturn.

I have no love for Saturn. I owned a 1997 SL2 that I actually really did love, being that it was the first car I ever bought new. It was totally reliable until 2006, when I took it to the Saturn of Fishers for an oil change. A mere 600 miles later, the engine blew. The dealer, Saturn of Fishers, wouldn't stand behind it. Nor would Saturn itself. So, I had the damned thing crushed into a cube. Then I bought a Toyota, swearing I would never buy another Saturn or GM product again so long as I lived.
GM CEO Fritz Henderson said in statement that Saturn and its dealership network will be phased out. Locally, Saturn dealers are in Indianapolis, Fishers and Greenwood.

I don't usually delight in schadenfreude, but in this case, I must confess I did snicker as I drove down 126th Street, past the entrance to the Saturn of Fishers. Good riddance. The market has spoken. Recessions are so very good for weeding out the bad.

I know I was just one customer, just one grain of sand on the beach, but maybe, just maybe, had Saturn treated me a little better, they might have survived. For, if they treated me with such contempt, I'm sure they treated just about everyone else who found themselves at a pivotal moment of showing customer loyalty, or not, like shit.


varangianguard said...

Geez Mike, reminder to self not to get on your bad side.


Doug said...

We had a lot of Saturns, but the quality seemed to be steadily declining. Their model names aren't that memorable, so I can't remember Amy's first two Saturns, but I know Amy had two of their sedans and a 2004 Vue and I had a 1997 SL2 and, currently, a 2005 Ion.

The Vue had some pretty significant mechanical problems, and my co-workers who have more recent Saturns have experienced mechanical problems as well. I don't know what the deal was, but they seemed to have a pretty good business model -- we were obviously reliable customers -- but earlier this year, we went with a used Hyundai.

If the demise of Saturn had been announced 3 years ago, I would have been a little bummed.

Todd S. said...

You can add me to the list of people who will only by one Saturn ever (and would have bought only that one even if GM decided to continue the brand). My specific beef was with the service department in Lafayette. After repeated attempts at the dealer I had to take the car to a third-party mechanic to get it fixed properly. When you can't even fix your own vehicles...

Mike Kole said...

VG, this post was the kid gloves treatment. Understand that I was one who sang the praises of Saturn, even steering my wife to the purchase of a 2005 Vue on the basis of Saturn's reliability, and the way they stood behind their product. So, I fairly felt like a complete ass when they didn't just one year later.

I guess I was the sucker who bought into their "different kind of car company" sloganeering ads. I'm one of those thick people who takes one at their word. I went in for an oil change, with the car at about 165,000 miles and made a comment to the effect that 'it might soon be time to think about getting a new one,' to which the dealer countered, 'are you kidding? 165,000? You're just getting started! That's the joy of owning a Saturn!' And, 600 miles later, kaput. Engine parts littered the highway.

I reminded the dealer of the words spoken to me just a week before, and he wouldn't hear of it. Wouldn't tow the car from Columbus OH, where I had been marooned. I could pay the $300 or so to tow it, and then he might consider looking at it. Otherwise, I was wasting his valuable time.

So yeah, Saturn can go to hell. &c.