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Automotive News

October 20, 2014

In the aftermath of the 2009 market crash, good retailers found themselves too valuable to disappear. Stores targeted for closure by one troubled brand were snapped up by a rising brand.

Hyundai, for instance, made a concerted effort to benefit when prime stores became available, says John Krafcik, then-CEO of Hyundai Motor America. "There were great General Motors facilities that were becoming vacant," says Krafcik, now president of the vehicle pricing firm TrueCar. "Hyundai moved in almost immediately with their dealer partners to occupy those facilities and retain some of those great people.

"We were very opportunistic, and, in particular, we were able to gain a lot of Saturn stores," Krafcik says, referring to General Motors' decision to eliminate the Saturn brand and its more than 400 franchises. Krafcik told Hyundai's retailers in 2008 that he wasn't out to create a lot of new franchise points. But Hyundai would look for opportunities to improve the existing network with better stores and improved street addresses, he says.

At the beginning of 2008, there were 787 Hyundai dealers. Today, there are 825. But more significant was a surge in exclusive Hyundai dealerships -- 621 today vs. 434 before the crisis. For the first nine months of this year, Hyundai has had a 4.5 percent U.S. market share -- up from 3 percent at the end of 2008.

"The Saturn stores we picked up came with people who had a Saturn mindset," Krafcik explains. Saturn had built a strong customer-satisfaction record by meticulously training its dealer network to create a positive retail experience.

"It was exactly what we were looking for," Krafcik says. "And as it turns out, there was a lot of similarity between Saturn customers and the Hyundai customer from a demographic and psychographic standpoint. So pulling some of these folks and their facilities into the Hyundai dealer network was a very positive thing for us."
 

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"We were very opportunistic, and, in particular, we were able to gain a lot of Saturn stores"
Hindsight is 20/20.

Closing the Saturn division may look like a huge mistake today, but back then Chevrolet needed product funding and so did Saturn - in the worst way. Saturn got the imported and doomed to fail Astra, GM had the Cruze coming.

I'm sure the choice was not difficult. Kudos to Hyundai for pumping cash into it's dealership network during the financial crisis.
 

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A bad situation for GM, they did the right thing in closing Saturn. And Hyundai saw an opportunity and took it.

I do agree that a stand alone store is better than these mega dealers. I have a stand alone GM dealership a mile or so down the road from a megadealer that sells almost everything, including Jeep. Each brand has it's own building, but some, for example Jeep, I can barely find every time I need to bring my wife's Grand Cherokee in for servicing. And the experience seems so impersonal vs. what I get. I drive into the service area, a concierge takes my keys and leads me to the service desk. They then lead me to the waiting area and offer me refreshments. The Jeep mega dealer experience: drive around until you can find a spot to park your car in the overcrowded lot, find the small entrance to the service area where the indifferent guy takes your keys/info and tells you your car will be done in a hour, go wait in the uninviting (yet newly remodeled) waiting area for an hour only to find out they forgot to service your car.....
 

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Good for Hyundai.

Retaining Buick was the biggest blunder of the screw the taxpayer era - but I understand - in order to get the Chinese to fund the bailout, Buick had to be retained since folding Buick would have hurt the Chinese more than US consumers (who bought Buicks here?). Since Saturn was becoming the US Opel, the transition would have been smoother here in the US than taking Opels and cross-dressing them into Buicks.

Buick is still a real non-factor here, but hindsight is 20/20.
 

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Automotive News

October 20, 2014

In the aftermath of the 2009 market crash, good retailers found themselves too valuable to disappear. Stores targeted for closure by one troubled brand were snapped up by a rising brand.

Hyundai, for instance, made a concerted effort to benefit when prime stores became available, says John Krafcik, then-CEO of Hyundai Motor America. "There were great General Motors facilities that were becoming vacant," says Krafcik, now president of the vehicle pricing firm TrueCar. "Hyundai moved in almost immediately with their dealer partners to occupy those facilities and retain some of those great people.

"We were very opportunistic, and, in particular, we were able to gain a lot of Saturn stores," Krafcik says, referring to General Motors' decision to eliminate the Saturn brand and its more than 400 franchises. Krafcik told Hyundai's retailers in 2008 that he wasn't out to create a lot of new franchise points. But Hyundai would look for opportunities to improve the existing network with better stores and improved street addresses, he says.

At the beginning of 2008, there were 787 Hyundai dealers. Today, there are 825. But more significant was a surge in exclusive Hyundai dealerships -- 621 today vs. 434 before the crisis. For the first nine months of this year, Hyundai has had a 4.5 percent U.S. market share -- up from 3 percent at the end of 2008.

"The Saturn stores we picked up came with people who had a Saturn mindset," Krafcik explains. Saturn had built a strong customer-satisfaction record by meticulously training its dealer network to create a positive retail experience.

"It was exactly what we were looking for," Krafcik says. "And as it turns out, there was a lot of similarity between Saturn customers and the Hyundai customer from a demographic and psychographic standpoint. So pulling some of these folks and their facilities into the Hyundai dealer network was a very positive thing for us."
The Saturn store in Glen Burnie, MD turned into a motorcycle dealership.

https://www.google.com/maps/@39.188...ata=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sm1bTE6U1NDZNloubRnkLDQ!2e0
 

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Hindsight is 20/20.

Closing the Saturn division may look like a huge mistake today, but back then Chevrolet needed product funding and so did Saturn - in the worst way. Saturn got the imported and doomed to fail Astra, GM had the Cruze coming.

I'm sure the choice was not difficult. Kudos to Hyundai for pumping cash into it's dealership network during the financial crisis.
I picked up an Astra for a bargain right after they announced Saturn was shutting down. It was a nice little car. The problem is that the MSRP was overpriced for what it was. For the price I paid, it was a good deal.
 

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All the Hummer stores around Houston have been turned into Hyundai shops, using the large H built into the building facade to their advantage.
Once upon a time a Chevy dealer and Saturn dealer lived side by side in a prime retail location. Now a Subaru dealer and Chinese food restaurant occupy the spaces.



 

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I picked up an Astra for a bargain right after they announced Saturn was shutting down. It was a nice little car. The problem is that the MSRP was overpriced for what it was. For the price I paid, it was a good deal.
It never should have been a Saturn to begin with....
 

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"The Saturn stores we picked up came with people who had a Saturn mindset," Krafcik explains. Saturn had built a strong customer-satisfaction record by meticulously training its dealer network to create a positive retail experience.
As an ex-Saturn fixed ops employee, the "Saturn mindset" is not rocket science, nor is it anything out of intergalactic space. It's treating people right using honesty and integrity. Simple. Saturn tainted me because I have such high expectations comparative to what is provided by automotive retail operations. When I get fed up enough with my experiences to bring it to the facility's attention, I'm met with deer-in-headlights stares and silence. Truly a shame.
 

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Hindsight is 20/20.

Closing the Saturn division may look like a huge mistake today, but back then Chevrolet needed product funding and so did Saturn - in the worst way. Saturn got the imported and doomed to fail Astra, GM had the Cruze coming.
The mistake was made long before Saturns closing. I feel most of the blame can be laid at the office door of Saint Bob Lutz and his complete re-invention of Saturn.

Saturn was the best defined and beloved by its customers brands GM had. So what did St. Bob do? Threw it all away and filled Saturn showrooms with far more costly products. What was the owner of a 5 year old S Sedan that stickered at $19k to do when he went to trade it and found $26K Auras and $35K Outlooks?

What was that customer going to do with a Sky?

.....ask Honda, Toyota, Kia, or Hyundai.
 

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Shame Saturn had to go, but they had become a division like any other division. when the first saturn came out in the early 90s it was a very innovative car for GM, DOHC/SOHC engines, futuristic styling, 4 wheel independent suspension, polymer dent resistant panels. but the final lineup was impressive, but could all have been badged chevy, buick, or pontiac. and had competed with other GM brands for sales.

sad part was the no haggle pricing and great service also had to go elsewhere. my one trip to a saturn dealer i was amazed how nice and easy going things were. i did not buy anything that day but i would have had they not shut down a short time later. also surprised how it was an all female sales staff, never seen that before or since
 

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As an ex-Saturn fixed ops employee, the "Saturn mindset" is not rocket science, nor is it anything out of intergalactic space. It's treating people right using honesty and integrity. Simple. Saturn tainted me because I have such high expectations comparative to what is provided by automotive retail operations. When I get fed up enough with my experiences to bring it to the facility's attention, I'm met with deer-in-headlights stares and silence. Truly a shame.
The problem wasn't Saturn. It was that the rest of GM did not follow that mindset. It shouldn't have been the "Saturn mindset", it should have been the "GM mindset" all along. But, alas, it wasn't and that is the basis for everything that was wrong with the old GM.
 

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The mistake was made long before Saturns closing. I feel most of the blame can be laid at the office door of Saint Bob Lutz and his complete re-invention of Saturn.

Saturn was the best defined and beloved by its customers brands GM had. So what did St. Bob do? Threw it all away and filled Saturn showrooms with far more costly products. What was the owner of a 5 year old S Sedan that stickered at $19k to do when he went to trade it and found $26K Auras and $35K Outlooks?

What was that customer going to do with a Sky?

.....ask Honda, Toyota, Kia, or Hyundai.
I thought the final Saturns were all pretty good cars. The Sky was awesome. They were trying to rejuvenate the brand, but like most of the stuff coming out of GM in the years before bankruptcy, it was too little too late.
 

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but could all have been badged chevy, buick, or pontiac. and had competed with other GM brands for sales.
This is true. At bankruptcy, GM just had way too many brands and too many copies of the same cars. Saturn had become redundant. Hopefully some of the lessons of customer service from Saturn still live in the new GM. They do seem to be doing better in this regard, and my experience buying and owning my 2014 Silverado was been very positive so far.
 

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The mistake was made long before Saturns closing. I feel most of the blame can be laid at the office door of Saint Bob Lutz and his complete re-invention of Saturn.

Saturn was the best defined and beloved by its customers brands GM had. So what did St. Bob do? Threw it all away and filled Saturn showrooms with far more costly products. What was the owner of a 5 year old S Sedan that stickered at $19k to do when he went to trade it and found $26K Auras and $35K Outlooks?

What was that customer going to do with a Sky?

.....ask Honda, Toyota, Kia, or Hyundai.
I agree; the downfall of Saturn was its trend of making more expensive vehicles. Saturn was intended to be a low-cost brand, and vehicles like the Outlook, Sky, Aura, and Relay clouded that vision.
 

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I agree; the downfall of Saturn was its trend of making more expensive vehicles. Saturn was intended to be a low-cost brand, and vehicles like the Outlook, Sky, Aura, and Relay clouded that vision.
exactly.... the Outlook was overlapping withh GMC, Chevy, and Buick (gotta milk that platform sharing!). The sky should have been a Chevy Stingray. The Relay was just a complete joke (using that tired and outdated platform).
 

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Wasn't Saturn losing money and that is why they went with more expensive cars? I thought I remember reading that on here.
 
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