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The midsize sedan General Motors Corp. had hoped would be a hit with Saturn lovers is instead on the automaker's hit list.

GM will kill off the slow-selling Saturn L-300 sedan and wagon in the summer of 2005, say suppliers, auto insiders and GM officials. The plan is to replace it later in 2005 with a four-door hatchback that some insiders call the Saturn Sportsback. It would be built on the same structure as the new Chevrolet Malibu and the Saab 9-3.

The Saturn L-300, called L-Series when it debuted in 1999, was GM's long-awaited attempt to create a midsize car that satisfied buyers of the original, compact Saturn would want to move to. Instead they just moved on, say auto-sales experts.

GM poured hundreds of millions into producing a first-ever midsize for Saturn and hoped to sell 200,000 of the L-Series a year. It topped out in 2001 with sales of 98,000, and a few years ago GM cut production from two shifts to one at the L-Series' Wilmington, Del., plant.

"It just had price, styling and size issues from the beginning. It's really a pretty boring car," said Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst for Global Insight, an auto-research firm. "GM suppliers were told to expect it to sell 200,000 a year, but it's never come close."

Lindland said competing Asian vehicles such as the Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima are faring the best in the competitive midsize-car segment. Sonata sales are up 20 percent for the year while Altima sales basically are flat.

L-Series sales tumbled to 81,000 last year and are down 16 percent in 2003. The L-300 is on pace to top 70,000.

GM has put heavy rebates on the L-300. They increased from $1,400 per vehicle in January to more than $3,400 in October, according to the vehicle-sales Web site www.edmunds.com. The vehicle's suggested retail price is between $16,000 and $24,000.

Sales have driven into a ditch the last two months. They fell 37 percent in September and 40 percent in October, compared with the same months in 2002. This is despite Saturn making over the front grille and rear and adding a brushed-nickel trim and silver gauges inside.

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1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.....whats that like 7 model years on the market....wasn't the car at the end of its life cycle anyway? I mean this is not really some earth shaking news.....newsflash.... "GM decides to replace slow selling 7 year old platform" WOW, do they do articles like this everytime Toyota decides to re-do the Camry?

Think of alot of cars that did not make it past their 3rd or 4th model year
 

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McGarrett:

Good points. The automotive press hasn't had many earth-shaking stories lately...especially when they have to fill the void DAILY now thanks to the web. Seven years is about on-par for GM to overhaul a model. But you won't find too many vehicles that don't survive four model years.
 

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It's a news story because it can be told in a manor that makes people think the domestic companies are doing bad. The automotive press never says anything bad about Toyota or Honda, you know. That wouldn't be in keeping with their idea of honest reporting. :rolleyes:
 

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I missed the news article on:

Suzuki decides to replace slow-selling Esteem sedan / wagon.

:p
 

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As I inquired in another forum, wasn't the positioning of the L-series a little weak? They took the alphanumeric scheme, a la BMW or Lexus, and applied it foolishly to the new mid-sized entry. Where 525 and 540 each have significance, in that an I6 is not inferior to a V8, what distinguishes an L100 from a 200 from a 300? It's as if the owner of an L100 has a big advertisement on the decklid that says "cheap, stripped model." It was a bit arrogant of Saturn to think they'd go after well-known entries like Accord and Camry with "L". ... and when they couldn't quite pull it off in year one, despite good reviews of the car, they added the blandness of the 100, 200, and 300 suffixes.

This is the same team that released the new small car, Ion, with a quirky feature like center gages. Why? It's one thing to add a novel feature that risks deterring one buyer to potentially gain two. But in the case of center gages, consider the following pools of prospective buyers:

Group 1: People who might otherwise buy the car but are deterred ONLY because they don't like the unconventional dash layout. I fit that group, so I know there is at least one person in the group, and likely many more. (NET LOSS IN BUYERS DUE TO FEATURE);

Group 2: People already attracted to the car, and might just happen to like the feature...but the gages are not the reason they're buying the car. (NET GAIN OF BUYERS IS ZERO DUE TO FEATURE);

Group 3: People who would not otherwise consider the car, but will buy it only because of gage placement. I have to speculate here, but there are probably few, if any people in this group. (NET GAIN OF BUYERS IS ZERO DUE TO FEATURE)

Therefore, we have a total net loss in this strategy, hence it was a stupid decision that will cost GM sales.
 

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saturn, from the begining, used alpha/numerics to name their cars. the VUE was the first to go against this tradition, so i think your point about saturn using alpha/numerics like BMW is moot.
 

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Ah, the good old days in the year 2000.....

http://autoweek.com/search/search_display....703615&record=6


(15:50 Feb. 21, 2000)
Saturn L-Series: Saturn Grows Up
Saturn's second revolution might have something to do with cars

We tested the sedan version with the optional 3.0-liter dohc V6-the LS2-which is offered only with a four-speed automatic. The V6 makes a respectable 182 hp. The L-Series comes standard with a new 2.2-liter inline-four; much better than Saturn's own four in terms of vibration and noise control, it is sufficient but uninteresting.

The V6 is a first for the automaker. Like the rest of the car, it can trace its bloodlines to parent GM's German-made Opel Vectra. It provides smooth and spirited motivation with a higher power-to-weight ratio than previous Saturns, while providing a combined EPA fuel economy of 22.7 mpg. The transmission, likewise, shifts smoothly. It doesn't seem to suffer from the searching-for-the-right-gear syndrome as do many GM automatics, but downshifts decisively and holds that gear until the throttle is modulated. From a start at wide-open throttle, second gear engages at 6200 rpm and 43 mph. Torque peaks at 3600 rpm and drops off quickly. Most of the LS2's oomph hits early. We would prefer a bit more midrange muscle, but its quick-off-the-line performance should appeal to general American tastes.

On the track, the LS2 gets to 60 mph in 7.47 seconds and passes the quarter-mile pole at 88.2 mph in 15.69 seconds. That compares closely with the V6-powered Honda Accord EX, a vehicle many L-Series buyers cross-shopped. The Accord, however, costs more, with the EX V6 starting at $24,550.

The LS2's German roots show even more in ride and handling. The chassis is stiff and confident. It exhibits little detectable body twist, even when driven with gusto over railroad tracks. The ride feels firm without being jarring, and the suspension swallows up bumps and potholes without upsetting the chassis.

The chassis' competence is evident on the track, too. The LS2's Firestone P205/65R-15s held with more traction than expected. Steering is precise and controllable. With traction control turned off, the LS2 becomes a point-and-go car. We flat-footed it through the slalom and turned in a best run of 42.5 mph, with the car showing a predictable but manageable amount of understeer.

Brakes, too, are more than decent, with the four-wheel discs pulling the LS2 to a full stop from 60 mph in 136 feet. Again, this compares closely with the Accord's 139 feet. Antilock brakes with traction control are optional.

Perhaps the most satisfying, if plastic, part of the LS2 is its interior. The quality of materials used is near the top in this segment, and interior trim fit-and-finish can best be described as Japanese-like. The layout of the controls is smart and usable, everything is within easy reach of the driver. More important, the interior looks downright good.

Many owners agreed. They like the quality of the plastics. Many also like how solid the doors feel when slammed. "Very Germanic," one said. On the other hand, they didn't like that the daytime running lights can't be turned off and they didn't like that brake dust builds up on the alloy wheels. Many owners were pleased that Saturn offers an L-Series wagon-Toyota and Honda no longer have wagons in this class.

ABS with traction control, V6 power with automatic, 15-inch alloy wheels, leather interior, heated front seats, power sunroof and a theft deterrent system: It adds up to a great value at $23,860. Saturn buyers expected nothing less. Unexpected is that Saturn has given them a good car to boot, even if it had to dip its net overseas. Great dealers selling cars people want to drive-could it be that Saturn will finally fulfill the promises it made as an upstart?

And this is the car Autoweek liked so much..... :p The ION they hate will probably live twice as long....
 

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too bad the car only sold ~30% of its expected target :(

excuse me while i curl up in the fetal position and cry myself to sleep.
 

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Originally posted by mackingu@Nov 22 2003, 12:34 AM
saturn, from the begining, used alpha/numerics to name their cars. the VUE was the first to go against this tradition, so i think your point about saturn using alpha/numerics like BMW is moot.
I think you missed the point I was making... it's not that alphanumerics are inherently a weak way of identifying a car. It's that "L-series" never stood out the way it was pitched. L100 L200 L300 meant little to the market. In the case of BMW or Lexus, the focus is on the prefix and suffixes relate to powertrain. Saturn ads often did not focus on the "L" but on L300, as if it were different from an L200...and yet, what do those suffixes even represent other than relative levels of content?

Ultimately, recognition of a "series" such as "5-series" or "F-series" comes with years of history. Good history with good product. If Saturn launched the VUE as a V10, V20, and V30, the message would have been diluted and the SUV's reception would have been weakened. The naming scheme of the L-series didn't kill the car, but it certainly didn't help it.
 

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Originally posted by desmo9+Nov 24 2003, 01:33 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (desmo9 @ Nov 24 2003, 01:33 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-mackingu@Nov 22 2003, 12:34 AM
saturn, from the begining, used alpha/numerics to name their cars. the VUE was the first to go against this tradition, so i think your point about saturn using alpha/numerics like BMW is moot.
I think you missed the point I was making... it's not that alphanumerics are inherently a weak way of identifying a car. It's that "L-series" never stood out the way it was pitched. L100 L200 L300 meant little to the market. In the case of BMW or Lexus, the focus is on the prefix and suffixes relate to powertrain. Saturn ads often did not focus on the "L" but on L300, as if it were different from an L200...and yet, what do those suffixes even represent other than relative levels of content?

Ultimately, recognition of a "series" such as "5-series" or "F-series" comes with years of history. Good history with good product. If Saturn launched the VUE as a V10, V20, and V30, the message would have been diluted and the SUV's reception would have been weakened. The naming scheme of the L-series didn't kill the car, but it certainly didn't help it. [/b][/quote]
oh, i stand corrected.
 

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Originally posted by desmo9+Nov 23 2003, 08:33 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (desmo9 @ Nov 23 2003, 08:33 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-mackingu@Nov 22 2003, 12:34 AM
saturn, from the begining, used alpha/numerics to name their cars. the VUE was the first to go against this tradition, so i think your point about saturn using alpha/numerics like BMW is moot.
I think you missed the point I was making... it's not that alphanumerics are inherently a weak way of identifying a car. It's that "L-series" never stood out the way it was pitched. L100 L200 L300 meant little to the market. In the case of BMW or Lexus, the focus is on the prefix and suffixes relate to powertrain. Saturn ads often did not focus on the "L" but on L300, as if it were different from an L200...and yet, what do those suffixes even represent other than relative levels of content?

Ultimately, recognition of a "series" such as "5-series" or "F-series" comes with years of history. Good history with good product. If Saturn launched the VUE as a V10, V20, and V30, the message would have been diluted and the SUV's reception would have been weakened. The naming scheme of the L-series didn't kill the car, but it certainly didn't help it. [/b][/quote]
I agree. You need to have a powerful brand name that can bring people in regardless of model name to have an anonymous model name like the "L-series".

Maybe they should give it leather seats standard and call it the "Saturn LUX"
 

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Orginally, they were called the LS and LW, then they changed the name a few years down the road, to L100, L200, etc...


Though they say the car was a slow seller, in my part of the country there are tons of L series' on the road, same for the ION too, I see those little "pods" everywhere.

But now that the L is going away, any thoughts on the replacement?

I would like to see Saturn stick with the sedan/wagon line up, and maybe even add a coupe, something for ION coupe owners to move up to, like Civic coupe owners move to Accord coupes.

The base engine will probably be the Ecotec 2.2, give the car a nice decent 5speed standard, with about 160hp

Make the supercharged 2.0 liter from the Red Line Saturns optional as the mid level engine, making about 200hp

After that, go to the new 3.6 V6, make it scaled down to about 3.0-3.2 liters, with about 220hp, and give the choice of both manual and automatics with the V6.

Save the full boat 250hp V6 for the Red Line models.

Also I had heard that Saturn was going to offer, Green Line models, which would be hybrid powered, this would be a good start for Saturn, a nice mid-size Prius fighter that does not look like a space ship and can get 50-60mpg in a family sedan, it would be a winner, especially when combined with Saturns excellent rep.

Share your thoughts...
 

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as much as i like saturn, the Green Line cars would be great for me to poop on :D

i think GM is going to use saturn as a prius/insight fighter. not a bad idea, i guess. i don't think GL-like products would suit any other GM brand, and the last thing GM needs to do is make a dedicated brand just for enviromentally friendly cars.

anyway, back to the L-series. i beleive saturn will get a rebadged Epsilon, like everyone else - probably steel bodied too. i just hope saturn doesn't turn into a pontiac/chevy :(

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on a side note, in regards to desmo9:

i just realized - the naming for the L-series [wagon included] follow saturns traditional way of naming their cars; the only difference is that they added two 0's. there was the SL, SL1 and SL2, just like the L100, 200 and 300. they eventually got rid of the L1/200 because no one bought them :(
 

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I think part of the reason Saturn sales are not what they could be is due to the naming, as has already been said here. Having a name that is easily remembered and differentiated (Mustang, Camaro, Corvette, Camry, Accord, etc etc) makes people more likely to express interest in a car. When I was out looking for a new car a couple years ago, I probably would never even have looked at a Saturn if the dealership hadn't been right next to the Ford dealership here. Until the ION and VUE, I couldn't name a single car made by Saturn. But I can name just about any other manufacturer's vehicles. Except for Lexus, who also follows the number/letter naming convention. BMW and Audi do the same, but some of their vehicles have really made a name for themselves (M3, M5, Z3, A4, S4, A8, TT, etc).
 

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Originally posted by mackingu@Nov 25 2003, 02:12 AM
***
on a side note, in regards to desmo9:

i just realized - the naming for the L-series [wagon included] follow saturns traditional way of naming their cars; the only difference is that they added two 0's. there was the SL, SL1 and SL2, just like the L100, 200 and 300. they eventually got rid of the L1/200 because no one bought them :(
I hear ya, but remember that when Saturn was launched in the early 90s, there was ONLY the SL. It wasn't really important to focus on the SL or whatever it was called because the focus was on "Saturn, A different kind of car company, ...". When people went to their Saturn dealer, they found only the small coupe and sedan. The branding was different, and SL1, 2, etc... was probably OK. When Saturn later launched a second line, the L, they suddenly had to change horses in their ad campaigns a little. It was no longer enough to sell "Saturn", but they had to let the market know there was now a choice of models. So I think the L's branding was more important. In fact, thinking out loud here, maybe this was part of the L's problem... Had their been a small AND midsize offering when the company was launched, perhaps what people associated with Saturn would have been different. Instead people began to associate Saturn with only a pair of compact cars, the way you'd associate Scott with toilet paper. If only Saturn could wipe that image :)
 

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what saturn needed, aside from a name change [which is something that really is subjective] was to do a more aggressive ad compaign. oh yeah, a much better car could've helped too :D
 

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There is a;ways a long list of reasons a car doesn't sell
in the marketplace. Name, style, quality, buyer' s perceptions.

Whatever the reasons, let's hope the Saturn leadership
figures out what went wrong and correct the misques.

Saturn is a company with a loyal following. Provide a great product
and the faithful and many more will buy the cars, Ion, L - Series replacement,
Vue or new products.

I suggest taking some risks, put the style out on edge, keep the quality up,
provide fun to drive acceleration and keep the fun in the car.

If these things can not be done, I suggest building Caprices with the plastic
siding, painting them yellow and just manufacture taxis.

Maybe the Checker name is availible.
 

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It is definitly time to replace the car but i have always liked it especially after it got its facelift acouple years ago. They definitley need to come out with something competetive but at the same time bring back to saturn roots people where orginally looking for with the orginal s series in the 1994 model year when they had their strongest sales.
 
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