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I just realized something that should have a solution/explanation, but I've never heard it. With all of GM's problems concerning overlap in North America, wouldn't it be better to not sell Opels as Saturns there, and just let equivalent Chevrolets be available?
 

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Yes.... that is the standing plan at Saturn -- to be an extension of Opel.
However, I believe GM is backing off that.
And if they do, that would be completely stupid and with lack of foresight.

There is a growing sentiment among Americans that "European cars are better." There is a nascent, untapped market for GM. Saturn needs to play off this new European heritage.

Rethink American.
Rethink Global.
 

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The rebadged Opels would provide a good halo effect for GM. They should have stuck with it when they brought Opels in during the '60s and '70s.

Until the Astra and the Aura, there wasn't much GM offered that would appeal to prospective VW buyers. It would be dumb to go back on that.
 

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The problem is trying to sell upscaleish Euro products under a marque that's firmly entrenched in the American mind as a cheap entry-level brand.

The Saturn name is respected, but respected as an inexpensive small car driven by your blue-haired granny or something you bought to send your daughter off to college in.

Ditch the Saturn name and sell them as Opels. Opel may have faded from the market in the 70s, but it left the market with an excellent reputation. In fact was the #2 import brand behind VW until the meteoric rise of the Japanese in the early 70s. And Opel never offered junk either. The Kadett was a highly-respected little car in its day, known for its attractive styling, reliability, German build quality, and it was backed by GM, meaning unlike other imports, parts were readily available at Mack Schlegel Buick-Chevy-GMC down on Superior Avenue...

And the "baby Corvette", the Opel GT, was well loved by the American public, and fondly remembered by anyone over forty.

Opel's got some history in this country, albeit erstwhile, and left on good terms. I think it's time to bring the Blitz back to America...

And for criminy's sake, BRING THE ASTRA SEDAN! Jeeze, they haven't figured out by now that Americans hate hatchbacks?

With a properly-positioned, properly-priced product lineup, Opel could mop up much of Mazda's and VW's customers. Bring in some MPVs, some bigger midsized products to appeal to portly Americans, and some Diesel/Automatic combos, and GM might be on to a winner...

And with Opels being vastly more reliable than VWs, maybe a successful Opel would open to the door to other Euro brands like Citroen and Skoda, relieving our automotive landscape of the drabness of Japan Inc. and the goofy truckishness of Detroit.
 

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The Saturn brand is NOT a brand to sell premium mainstream cars under. See Astra and Aura sales
 

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Bringing a new brand (Opel) to the US would be extremely costly. Opel does have a history here, but they left the US in 1975. You'd practially have to be 50+ to even remember them being sold here. Ask a 30 year old about Opel, and they likely won't know the brand at all. For most practical purposes, the Opel brand in the US has near zero market value.

Besides having almost no brand recognition, switching Saturns to Opels would be a very costly move. Not only do they have to advertise the brand to no end, just transition costs are high. Didn't it cost Nissan half a billion dollars to switch from the Datsun brand name?

It would be cheaper to reinvent the image of the Saturn brand.

As for cutting the brand altogether, it's still a lot cheaper to just keep Saturn alive than to ditch it and sell the models as Chevys or whatever. Think of how much it would cost to buy out 400+ standalone Saturn retailers and compensate them for potential lost revenue.
 

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The Saturn brand is NOT a brand to sell premium mainstream cars under. See Astra and Aura sales
With all due respect, Saturn is the perfect brand to sell slightly upscale european cars in the U.S.. Their heritage is very similar to the rise of VW. For decades VW built quirky, but dependable economy cars. They had a great following of fans who came back time after time for their new VW. Eventually, VW decided to take their line upmarket. And their customer base grew along with them... (Also see Toyota, Honda, Nissan...)

Saturn had a very loyal following because of their first generation of quirky but dependable S Series cars. The Different Kind of Car Company attracted the Different Kind of Customer who were very similar to those early VW buyers. But the second generation of Saturn vehicles did not go over as well with the public as the first. They did lose some of their base, but certainly not all of them. There is still a vibrant cult of Saturn. Saturn's momentum was slowed but they were not dead.

The new designs, Aura, Sky, & Vue have done well. Just for the record, the Aura's sales are up 7% Year to Date... This in a dead market... How many cars in general, let alone GM cars can say that? It's no coincidence that Aura's sales have climbed after GM decided to actually ADVERTISE the vehicle on TV over this past summer. It's what they should have done in the first place.

The Astra does not sell because GM doesn't want them to sell. It has nothing to do with the Saturn brand. Because of the ever shrinking U.S. dollar, GM loses too much money on each Astra that they bring over. I believe they're perfectly content on selling a minimal amount until they start manufacturing the vehicle in North America... Or the dollar gets stronger versus the Euro.
Don't believe it? Though you don't see too many now, the G8 had several clever TV commercials to hype its release. The Astra, which when originally scheduled to come over here 2 years ago, was to sell at least twice as many vehicles in half as many stores as the G8. But in the meantime, the Dollar plummeted vs. the Euro and the projected Astra became very unprofitable six months before it was ever launched in the U.S.. Hence, no TV ad campaign to try to move 50,000 of a brand new moniker in the U.S.. It worked. They've sold less than 10,000 thru October. Losing money on 10,000 cars is better than losing a ton of money on 50,000 cars, not to mention the advertising costs.

The biggest mistake, besides not advertising the newly released Aura and Vue, in GM's "new" Saturn brand has been the fact that they did not keep a true economy car in the lineup. Hopefully, this gets resolved in the not too distant future. Had they kept an economy car, I truly believe Saturn's retail sales would eclipse Pontiac's within 5 years.

People are willing to give the Saturn brand a chance. Yes, there will always be those who say Saturn builds cheap plastic cars. How is that any different from what Toyota, Honda, and VW went through when they expanded? Saturn's reputation is growing again like it had in the 90's. A lot of those folks who purchased those quirky little cars in the 90's are willing now to give these beautiful new Saturns a shot. The Saturn line should be EXPANDED not contracted at this time. Give them a true sub compact, an Aura wagon, and an Opel sourced replacement for the Outlook (since we know the Outlook will be gone after this generation).

I do not believe that any other GM division has the potential to grow nearly as much as Saturn. They have the least amount of baggage. I'm a lifelong GM fan, and I mourned the day that Oldsmobile (my favorite division) died. And I will mourn the day when Pontiac dies... Get ready, it is coming. I don't want them to go, but I do believe that the brand is now way too damaged to recover. Pontiac's on life support right now. We can't turn back the clock to the glory days. It's just been too long since the mainstream customer took them seriously.:(

Saturn is just getting started... But don't expect 500,000 sales so soon after the rebirth. No one could do that overnight.:)
 

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When Pontiac dies, I will move to either Buick or Saturn as my brand.
 

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I will be right there with you.
I'm already in the Saturn "bandwagon".I just couldn't make a case to get a G6 with its bad interior which is why I got an AURA instead. It is quite a nice car. I will be waiting for either the next-gen VUE or AURA as my next car probably.
 

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German build quality
The last Kadetts sold in the US were in fact Isuzu Geminis. Buick Opel by Isuzu :D

Anyhow, it makes a lot of sense to sell Opels in the US - the case is that GM already has to pay for their development, and Opels got really good in recent years. The Astra was a bit of a revelation when it appeared, prompting (together with the facelifted Focus) VW to accelerate the Golf model exchange from V to VI. The Zafira and Meriva established themselves in important market segments, and the Corsa and Vectra have always been segment stalwarts (though for some reason GM killed one of those winning nameplates).

So, when GM's development money grows thin, and the market in the US shifts towards smaller, more efficient and more refined vehicles, it only made sense to bring Opels stateside.

The choice of the brand was horrible though. Turning the plastic-clad Saturn into American Opel was a marketing effort comparable to creating a whole new brand. Saturn would actually make a good global brand for cheap small cars, and/or "indie" cars, such as EVs.

OTOH, Opels would much better fit approximately where they do in Europe - above Chevrolet, with Buick and Pontiac. The Astra would have probably flied off the lots as a Pontiac, had it debuted back in 2004, and was built in the US, even as a hatchback. Meriva could replace Vibe, Zafira - Rendezvous (who vanished without a trace), Vectra GTS made a much better G6 than the Oprahwagen, the Caravan could have become the new Buick Electra Estate etc.
 

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I'm already in the Saturn "bandwagon".I just couldn't make a case to get a G6 with its bad interior which is why I got an AURA instead. It is quite a nice car. I will be waiting for either the next-gen VUE or AURA as my next car probably.
If I would replace my '04 Malibu right now with another Epsilon I would get an Aura. The Malibu is just too much like basic transportation for me.
 

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Have you ever driven an AURA? It really is a nice car.
I agree, it really is a nice car. I would trade my Malibu in for one now, except for two things. One, I am car payment free for the first time in 12 years and am kind of enjoying it. Two, I have three kids and the back seat of any Epsilon is kind of tight for them, especially because one is in a car seat and another is in a booster. I am trying to hold out and see what the new LaCrosse is like.
 
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