|Founded||January 7, 1985|
|Area served||United States, Canada|
|Key people||Jill Lajdziak,
former General Manager
|Parent||Motors Liquidation Company
Saturn Corporation is an automobile manufacturer and marque, established on January 7, 1985 as a subsidiary of General Motors in response to the success of Japanese automobile imports in the United States. The company marketed itself as a "different kind of car company," and operated somewhat independently from its parent company for a time, with its own assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, unique models, and a separate retailer network.
Following the withdrawal of a bid by Penske Automotive to acquire Saturn on September 2009, General Motors is expected to shut down Saturn by October 2010. All new production was halted on October 1, 2009. Many former Saturn Corporation assets are held by Motors Liquidation Company.
Alex C. Mair began discussions of a revolutionary new, small-car project codenamed "Saturn" in June 1982. In November 1983, the Saturn idea was publicized by General Motors' Chairman Roger B. Smith and GM's President F. James McDonald. Twelve months later, the first Saturn demonstration vehicle was revealed. On January 7, 1985, the Saturn Corporation was officially founded.
In July 1990, GM Chairman Roger Smith and UAW President Owen Bieber drove the very first Saturn off the assembly line in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The brand was marketed as a "different kind of car company," and Saturn operated outside the GM conglomerate, with its own assembly plant in Spring Hill, unique models and a separate retailer network.
Results at Saturn were mixed. According to The Wall Street Journal, the project was too overambitious, as "everything at Saturn is new: the car, the plant, the workforce, the dealer network and the manufacturing process. Not even Toyota, everyone's candidate for the world's best automaker, tackles more than two new items on any single project." While Saturn cars proved very popular with its buyers, actual sales never met the optimistic projected targets, in part because of a recession in 1990. It also proved cannibalistic as 41% of Saturn buyers already owned a GM car. Its separation from the rest of its GM parent, plus the fact that it drained $5 billion from other car projects, stirred resentment within GM ranks. Also, Saturn opened at considerably higher cost than the Japanese transplants (factories that Japanese automakers established in the United States) and despite the emphasis on quality, 35–40 percent of the car's plastic panels were sent back with defects. 
Nonetheless, the brand was immediately known for its 'no haggle' prices. The first Saturn model, the S-Series, was significantly successful. A year later, Saturn hit the Canadian market. 499,999 Saturns later, 'Carla' entered the market in 1993. In May 1995, 'Jasper', Saturn's Millionth car is produced. In 1996, the short lived GM EV1 hit Saturn Showrooms, later becoming the subject of the 2006 documentary film Who Killed the Electric Car?. All EV1s were reclaimed by GM by 2005. In 1997, Saturn entered the Japanese market. In January 1999, Saturn rolled out its two millionth car. Later that year, Saturn began production of its all new L-Series.
Saturn's first compact crossover SUV was introduced in 2002 MY as the Vue, based on a globally-used GM design. In 2003 MY, Saturn introduced the Ion as a replacement to the S-Series. In 2005 MY, Saturn began selling the Relay, a mini-van. That same year, the L-Series was discontinued. The Sky roadster was introduced in 2006 as a 2007 model. Also in the 2007 MY, the Aura midsize sedan made its way to dealerships, alongside the Outlook, a larger CUV than the Vue, and was the last year the the Ion was produced. The Ion was replaced by the European-built Astra in 2008. During the 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Saturn revealed its Flextreme concept vehicle, which was a rebadged Opel Flextreme.
In US Congressional hearings on December 2, 2008, General Motors announced its intentions to focus on four core brands (Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC), with the sale, consolidation, or closure of Saturn and the remaining brands (Pontiac, Hummer, and Saab). General Motors Chairman and former CEO Rick Wagoner announced during a news conference on February 17, 2009 that Saturn will remain in operation through the end of the planned lifecycle for all Saturn products (2010–11).
In February 2009, GM declared its intent to part with this brand by closing or selling the division, either to investors or to dealers, as part of restructuring plans dependent upon the receipt of a second round of government loans ("bailout" funding). It is the third such action for GM in the 21st century, following those of Oldsmobile, which ceased production in 2004, and Pontiac, which will cease production by the end of the 2010 model year.
General Motors announced in June 2009 that it was selling the brand to Penske Automotive Group. The arrangement was similar to the deal under which Penske distributes Daimler AG's Smart Car in the United States. Penske was not planning to buy the factories and would eventually had to have other car companies build cars sold as Saturns. GM would have built the Aura, Vue, and Outlook for Penske for two years. To replace GM as the brand's manufacturer, Penske was in discussions with several global automakers, including Renault Samsung Motors of Korea.
By the end of 2009, GM closed all of its 46 Saturn dealerships in Canada, even for Saturn dealerships also selling Saab vehicles. GM and Penske decided that they could no longer make a business case to distribute Saturn vehicles in Canada after the sale of the brand. Saturn's customer service, parts, and warranty operations will move to other GM dealerships in Canada.
On September 30, 2009, Penske terminated its discussions with GM to acquire its Saturn subsidiary. The tentative agreement was for GM to continue to produce the Saturn line until 2011; after that time, an undisclosed third company would assume production responsibilities. Penske's decision to back out of the sale came after an undisclosed company's board rejected plans to take over production of the Saturn line. The undisclosed company was later reported to be Renault. Subsequently, GM stated they will shut down the division and dealers will have to close by October 2010. Saturn owners will still be able to take their cars to Saturn dealerships for service until closure in 2010, after which point Saturn vehicles will be serviced at other GM dealerships.
In February 2010, as a means of customer retention, GM announced it was offering existing Saturn owners up to US$2,000 in incentives on purchasing a new Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick or GMC vehicle until March 31. Customers are required to have owned their Saturns for at least six months and are not required to trade them in to be eligible for the incentives.
The company's products used a dedicated platform called the Z-body and a dedicated engine, the 1.9 L Saturn I4 engine, and a dedicated plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. All of the original Saturns featured dent-resistant plastic body panels which were also touted as allowing the company to change the look of the vehicles readily. However, in practice, the company did not take advantage of this capability often.
Saturn S-Series cars were produced from 1991–2002. There were 3 Generations of S-Series Cars. First Generation S-Series cars were produced from 1991–1994. For the 1995 Model year, Saturn implemented a "First Generation" exterior, and "Second Generation" interior. The exterior of the 1995 model year looked the same as the first generation cars, but exhibited larger gauge faces on the instrument cluster, and a redesigned middle console. First Generation engines were rated at 85 horsepower (63 kW) for the Single Overhead Cam Engines, while the Dual Overhead Cam Engines were rated at 124 horsepower (92 kW) for the entire run of S-Series cars (1991–2002). In 1996, the Second Generation S-Series Sedan was introduced and remained virtually unchanged for the rest of the vehicle's production run. In 1997, the Second Generation of the Sport Coupe model was introduced with a more "scooped" headlight front. The S-Series was produced in three variations: Coupe (SC), Sedan (SL), and Wagon (SW). The Wagon was introduced for the 1993 Model year and was produced until 2001.
The first real change came with the 2000 Saturn L-Series mid-size car. It shared the GM2900 platform with the Opel Vectra, along with its engine, and was built at a GM factory in Wilmington, Delaware. The Saturn Sky is now being produced in the Wilmington factory along with the essentially identical Opel GT and the closely-related Pontiac Solstice.
In recent years, sales have been in decline. Ion production lines were halted for two weeks in 2003 to allow dealer inventory to reduce. The L-Series was canceled after production of the 2005 models, and the Ion was canceled after 2007.
As of 2009, the company shared GM's Delta, Epsilon, Kappa, Lambda and Theta platforms, and the company's Ecotec engines—including the new 2.4L LE5 I4, Turbo 2.0L LNF I4, and DCVCP 1.8L I4—and the High Feature LY7 3.6L V6 and High Value LZ4 3.5L V6 engines. The Saturn Vue used a Honda engine in the past, and the plastic body panels have been discontinued on all current vehicles.
The 2009 Saturn models were the Sky roadster, the Aura sedan, the Astra hatchback, the Vue small crossover SUV and the Outlook full-size crossover SUV built off the GM Lambda platform (replacing the Relay minivan).
Some recent Saturns are virtually identical to certain Opel/Vauxhall models. For example, the 2008 Saturn Vue was a rebadged Opel Antara, while the Opel GT was based on the Saturn Sky. The Opel Astra was imported from Antwerp, Belgium as the Saturn Astra (replacing the Ion as the entry-level car). On the other hand, the Saturn Aura, while based on the same platform as the Opel Vectra, is a unique model for the North American market similar to the Pontiac G6.
The company offers two sub-lines of vehicles: "Red Line" Saturns are performance-oriented, while "Green Line" cars are more environmentally friendly hybrids. The Vue and Ion Red Line models, launched in 2004, have been joined by Vue and Aura Green Lines for the 2007 model year and a Sky Red Line the same model year. Saturn's Green Line vehicles utilize mild hybrid technology.
|Saturn S-Series||compact sedan and coupe||1991–2002|
|Saturn L-Series||mid-size sedan and station wagon||2000–2005|
|Saturn Vue||compact crossover||2002–2009|
|Saturn Ion||compact sedan and quad coupe||2003–2007|
|Saturn Outlook||full-size crossover||2007–2009|
|Saturn Aura||mid-size sedan||2007–2009|
|Saturn Astra||compact 3– and 5-door hatchback||2008–2009|
|Saturn automobile timeline, 1991–2009|
|Sport Compact||Ion Red Line|
Saturn is an automobile maker, owned by General Motors, established on January 7, 1985. Saturns are sold in the United States and Canada, some even being sold in Japan. They are currently known for European styling, and no-haggle pricing; while in times past their most notable feature was plastic body panels.