GM’s Saturn brand will probably be killed off by 2011 as part of the company’s restructuring, according to Bob Lutz, the troubled car maker's vice-chairman.
Lutz told Automotive News that he would personally like to see Saturn "survive and prosper". But he added, "The reality is that is probably not going to be the outcome."
Saturn was founded in January 1985 and started building cars in 1990. It was established by GM to directly rival the increasingly successful Japanese manufacturers.
The Tennessee factory brought in new contracts and working practices agreed with the unions, and Saturn dealerships were configured to price cars on a ‘no haggle’ basis. Eventually Saturn’s customer base became overwhelmingly female.
The first Saturns were built on an all-new platform and were clad in plastic panels, which GM had intended to make restyling easier and quicker.
However, GM was slow to add vehicles to Saturn’s range; it waited until 2000 to introduce a model based on the 1998 Opel/Vauxhall Vectra. And Saturn’s sales never climbed above 250,000 per year.
In recent years, GM decided that Saturn’s future was for it to rebadge Opels and last year, Opel began exporting Saturn-badged Astra hatchbacks to the US.