Saturn was first discussed as a “revolutionary new, small car project” in June of 1982. It was officially publicised in November of 1983 and the first Saturn vehicle was revealed twelve months later. On January 7, 1985, the Saturn Corporation was officially founded.
A New Kind of Car Company
Saturn was branded as a “new kind of car company.” In July of 1990, the first Saturn vehicle was driven off the assembly line from its assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The first Saturn model was the S-Series. The Saturn brand was immediately known for its “no haggle” prices and became very popular with buyers. In addition to having “no haggle” prices, Saturn made a production over new purchases and gave buyers flowers. Despite it success, actual sales never met the optimistic projected targets. Saturn also proved cannibalistic as 41% of Saturn buyers already owned a General Motors cars. In 1999, Saturn began the production of its new L-Series.
In 2002, Saturn expanded its line with the introduction of its first crossover SUV, the Vue. The Vue was based on a globally used General Motors design. In 2003, the Saturn Ion replaced the S-Series. In 2005, Saturn continued its expansion by introducing the Relay, a minivan. The L-Series was also discontinued in 2005. The Sky roadster, a sporty convertible, was introduced in 2006 as part of Saturn’s 2007 line. Also released in 2007 were the Aurora, a midsized sedan, and the Outlook, a CUV that was larger than the Vue. In 2008, the Astra was introduced and replaced the Ion. Unlike other Saturn models which were produced in the United States, the Astra was produced in Europe.
In 2008, the United States suffered a major economic meltdown and General Motors was in major financial straits. At a Congressional hearing on December 2, 2008, General Motors announced its intention to focus on its four core brands (Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC) and sell, consolidate, or close its remaining brands (Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer, and Saab).
It was announced during a news conference on February 17, 2009 that Saturn would remain in operation through the end of the planned lifecycle for all Saturn products (2010–11). Thereafter, it planned to sell or close Saturn as part of restructuring plans dependent upon the receipt of a second round of government loans. In June of 2009, General Motors announced that it was selling Saturn to Penske Automotive Group.
The End of Saturn
On September 30, 2009, Penske terminated its discussions with GM to acquire its Saturn subsidiary. Subsequently, GM stated they will shut down the division and dealers would have to close by October 2010. Since that date Saturn vehicles have been serviced at other GM dealerships. The Outlook was the last Saturn produced.
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 were required to have owned their Saturns for at least six months and were not required to trade them in to be eligible for the incentives.