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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
SOURCE: AutoBlog, AutoNews.com

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The Astra is not just a financial burden for the General – it isn't exactly a sales success, either. GM has sold only 7,914 so far this year, which is far below the projected pace of 25,000 annual units. Part of the problem is that few people actually know the Astra exists, and those who do may not want to pay the relatively high price of entry. If you've driven or own an Astra, let us know what you think of it in the comments.
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SOURCE: LeftLaneNews.com

Since gas topped the $4 mark earlier this year, small, efficient cars have been selling like gangbusters. MINI is completely sold out for 2008 and most of the efficient models on the market have been selling at a clip of 50,000 units per month. But while the segment continues to thrive, General Motors’ Saturn Astra has been left out of the action.

The Astra hit the U.S. market back and January, but has only managed to tally 7,914 sales – well short of the company’s goal of 25,000 sales. The problem doesn’t lie with the Astra itself – as we can attest to – but rather the car’s high sticker price.

When GM first decided to sell the Belgium-made Astra in the U.S., it targeted a starting price of $15,500. That price was intended to be low enough to entice buyers into Saturn showrooms, but also high enough to leave a little coin in the General’s pocket. However, the value of the dollar dropped during the Astra’s U.S. development, which ruined GM’s well laid plan.

“Well, I have to tell you, the price is no longer $15,500, and the profit is no longer there, either,” GM vice chairman Bob Lutz told Automotive News.
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BIG surprise here. :rolleyes:

This is exactly why I had shorted tens of thousands of Astras on my Edmunds stock exchange portfolio while everyone was buying them driving up the price. I knew it was doomed from the start - pretty much like any other Saturn. You can't sell something no one even knows exists out there. (the Saturn brand i.e.)

I can't fathom why GM can't figure this out - no one wants a Saturn. The product is just fine - the brand is super weak. When my friends go shopping - it's always the same, not one person considers a Saturn. Probably more people consider Suzuki or Mitsubishi.

And the amount of advertising required to change that would be ridiculous. It's a lost cause unless GM can totally convert Saturn to something like an all-diesel or all-hybrid brand. Basically, give the brand a reason to exist.

Sigh....GM.
 

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All of GM's weakest brands are the ones with independant dealerships (Hummer, Saab, Saturn) making it hard to get rid of them. Instead we all debate which brand selling over 100K vehicles a year should be shut so we can save 25K a year Saab.
 

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GM should follow Ford's plan and move production to the US. Once you pay for the plant conversions (flexible), then you can save a ton on production verses EU. Also, they can eventually move many of the components production to the US and save money in Europe or just export to Europe.

Take advantage of the exchange rate!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I can't fathom why GM can't figure this out - no one wants a Saturn. The product is just fine - the brand is super weak. When my friends go shopping - it's always the same, not one person considers a Saturn. Probably more people consider Suzuki or Mitsubishi.

And the amount of advertising required to change that would be ridiculous. It's a lost cause unless GM can totally convert Saturn to something like an all-diesel or all-hybrid brand. Basically, give the brand a reason to exist.
I dont understand either - and it seems GM is hell bent on keeping the brand "viable" no matter what enthusiasts, analysts or anyone else says.

I dont hate Saturn as a brand, but how many Billions do you blow before you've had enough and invest elsewhere?

As for the idea of changing Saturn into an all Hybrid brand, the idea has merit - but you still need the infrastructure to do that. The only product they sell right now that is a hybrid is the Aura and the Vue - and who knows if more are on the way.

Regardless, I think even most Saturn supporters agree that something must be done since the "reinvention" has not amounted to very much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
GM should follow Ford's plan and move production to the US. Once you pay for the plant conversions (flexible), then you can save a ton on production verses EU. Also, they can eventually move many of the components production to the US and save money in Europe or just export to Europe.

Take advantage of the exchange rate!
They may already be doing this for the next generation on DeltaII. They could build them in Lordstown, but the last report said they were going to produce them in Mexico instead.

Regardless, two more years of declining sales - and no true small car to sell - don't do very much for the Saturn brand.

I would almost think GM would be better off "Saturnizing a Cobalt", calling it an Astra, and selling them in showrooms than continuing to lose money on a product that does not sell and has virtually NO advertising.

Again, the too many divisions, too much overlap, not-enough-money-to-go-around, idiotic GM brand management strategy rears its ugly head....
 

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"And the amount of advertising required to change that would be ridiculous. It's a lost cause unless GM can totally convert Saturn to something like an all-diesel or all-hybrid brand. Basically, give the brand a reason to exist. " Everyone here has been singing this tune for at least 2..5 years, yuo cannot reinvent a brand without big ad bucks - their ad budgets just get lost in the noise, not to mention the fact that their dealership network is so small that they rally cannot cross promote locally.
I think that they sold more in their first year than they do now, but they had those remarkable intro ads with hal rainey and a different kind of company running 24-7.
 

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I test drove an Astra.

IMO:

Too grey on inside...no color options

Too slow, engine needs 30 more HP

Weird European symbols inside car. I guess in Belgium it's totally normal. But not here in US. A small cost to change icons to US tastes would have done wonders

No armrest, and weird blinkers (you flip it up or down, it goes back to middle, doesn't stay)

Very small back window (a sacrifice to style, I can forgive)

Too expensive....18K with no incentives
 

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Too expensive? No profit? This is what happens when lazy GM managers decide (half-heartedly) to bring over European models to the USA by producing them in Europe! Had GM produced these vehicles here (isn't the Astra simply a rebadged US Chevrolet Cobore underneath the sheetmetal and interior trimmings?). I swear I've never seen more pathetic and incompetent managers who seem hell-bent on FAILING - they engineer plans that have no hope of achieving positive results and then whine when they don't get positive results.

Meanwhile, Ford is going to produce European Fords in North America. Even that obtuse company is starting to get it!
 

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Improper and inept marketing of the Astra -- or lack thereof -- has kept the Astra from being noticed in the marketplace.

Astra is a really damn good car. It's just buried in GM's marketing debacles.
 

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I've learned from GM insiders that we shouldn't believe Lutz when he talks...
For example I have it on good authority that he hasn't killed the 32V UltraV8, the Zeta, the DT7, or the updates to the Cobalt and the STS and that we haven't badge engineered a car in decades... So when he says this car isn't profitable or selling well, what it means is there are waiting lists 6 months long to get one and they clear $5,000 profit on each sale.
 

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GM should follow Ford's plan and move production to the US. Once you pay for the plant conversions (flexible), then you can save a ton on production verses EU. Also, they can eventually move many of the components production to the US and save money in Europe or just export to Europe.

Take advantage of the exchange rate!
They should produce it here, but as the Cruze hatch. It would be available at more dealerships in North America, but also have a car for places like latin America and Russia were the Astra is sold as a Chevy.

Saturn as it stands is a redundant brand. It has failed as an semi-independent brand of small cars and it has failed as Opel North America. With the death the Ion, many of the traditional saturn buyers are not going elsewhere anyhow. How many different incarnations are we going to give it before we realize that Saturn just does not work.
 

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I've learned from GM insiders that we shouldn't believe Lutz when he talks...
For example I have it on good authority that he hasn't killed the 32V UltraV8, the Zeta, the DT7, or the updates to the Cobalt and the STS and that we haven't badge engineered a car in decades... So when he says this car isn't profitable or selling well, what it means is they are waiting lists 6 months long to get one and they clear $5,000 profit on each sale.
I can't tell, are you joking? The Astra with 130 day supply has waiting lists? No small car has profit margins at $5,000, it's a subsidized product and will loose money even if it sold without incentives.

And the Astra is another example of GM importing products not fit for the Saturn consumer.
 

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I can't tell, are you joking? The Astra with 130 day supply has waiting lists? No small car has profit margins at $5,000, it's a subsidized product and will loose money even if it sold without incentives.
That is correct!!!
And that makes me wonder how GM determined the economics of Astra!!

They had to have taken into account currency fluctuations, and decontenting of the car, plus localization costs.

Are we to believe 25,000 annual sales of the Astra was the break even point???

Somehow 2 + 2 isn't adding up in my head.
 

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All of what everybody said is true. Had GM brought the Astra over the way it is sold in Germany/other markets, it would sell. With nav, panaramic roof, hotted up engines, etc...
Plus, STILL haven't seen any ads for the car. I imagine if someone saw one on the road they truely would say "That's a Saturn?" Because they've never heard of the car before!!
 
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