GM Inside News Forum banner
1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Saturn is losing its identity
GM swallowing up division with recent labor, production changes

By SCOTT REEVES
Associated Press
01/30/2004



NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Saturn, once billed as "a different kind of company" making "a different kind of car," is losing its distinct identity and becoming just another division at General Motors Corp.

GM is forcing Saturn to adopt common practices for design, production and labor, a change that had to happen, analysts say, to cut costs and make Saturn competitive.

Saturn officials are downplaying the changes - "We simply negotiated a new [labor] agreement," Saturn spokeswoman Sue Holmgren said - but analysts see it as the end of Saturn as a separate entity.

The Saturn Corp. was an experiment launched in 1990 to compete with low-cost imports like Toyota, Honda and Nissan. All the cars were made in the small town of Spring Hill, about 30 miles south of Nashville, and more importantly, about 500 miles away from Detroit.

The company had its own managers who reported to the Saturn executive board rather than to GM, and the United Auto Workers signed a separate contract with GM to create a cooperative environment between labor and management.

The cars - there was initially only one model - were offered at a fixed price, with no haggling. The company developed a reputation for customer loyalty that rivaled higher-priced brands.

Cris Thomas, who runs the computers at a private school in Cambridge, Mass., is on his third Saturn and has put down a deposit on the new Ion sedan without even a test drive.

"I've got to have the Ion," Thomas said. "I'm attracted to the vehicle. I like the looks of the older S series, especially when compared with Honda and Toyota. I think Saturn is more reliable than the Japanese cars."

But after a promising start, Saturn let the car's look and technology get stale, said Mike Wall, an analyst for SCM Worldwide in Farmington Hills, Mich.

"Saturn's coupe and sedan stayed on the market a lot longer than they should have," Wall said. "Automakers get bursts of activity by tweaking the design, but that didn't happen with the Saturn S series."

New models were finally introduced to mixed results, and the company has plans for more, including a minivan, another sport utility vehicle and possibly a sporty coupe or roadster.

The Saturn plant near Newport, which employs about 1,170 assembly workers, will stop making the L-series sedan and wagon next year and begin making the Pontiac Solstice for the 2006 model year.

Production of the new Saturn Relay minivan will begin next fall, but not in Spring Hill. Instead, it will be assembled at GM's plant in Doraville, Ga., using a standard GM frame.

"Flexibility is king," Wall said. "You've got to have flexibility of production in the current market. This isn't a bad sign for Spring Hill ... GM isn't turning away from the Saturn brand - it's injecting more flexibility."

"They committed to seek significant improvements at the Spring Hill facility that will allow us to build multiple product lines, including non-Saturn products," Martinez said. "We can build other cars if that's what it takes to keep membership secure."

GM wants to create a global network of flexible manufacturing plants based on common practices to let the automaker shift production of different lines and models to various factories as needed to match the competitors, especially the Japanese companies, Wall said.

To survive, Saturn had to become part of this strategy. And for the union, it was adapt or die.

"We didn't want to put all our eggs in one basket," Martinez said. "I don't think Saturn is being folded into another brand. I think we'll continue as a unique facility that allows union participation, but it won't be the 50-50 partnership we had before."

Last year, Saturn represented only about 6 percent of the GM vehicles sold in the United States, and it has made money in only one of the last 13 years.

Full Article Here

 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Originally posted by spdwayGm@Jan 30 2004, 07:47 PM
I guess, with the new changes, that "This Is Not Your Father's Saturn?"..... :drevil:
Well, actually it is your fathers Saturn, since they are getting a refreshed Venture Minivan clone. ;) :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44,258 Posts
Originally posted by Ming@Jan 30 2004, 07:05 PM
GM wants to create a global network of flexible manufacturing plants based on common practices to let the automaker shift production of different lines and models to various factories as needed to match the competitors, especially the Japanese companies, Wall said.

To survive, Saturn had to become part of this strategy. And for the union, it was adapt or die.

"We didn't want to put all our eggs in one basket," Martinez said. "I don't think Saturn is being folded into another brand. I think we'll continue as a unique facility that allows union participation, but it won't be the 50-50 partnership we had before."

Last year, Saturn represented only about 6 percent of the GM vehicles sold in the United States, and it has made money in only one of the last 13 years.
Sorry GM. You are EXTREMELY late in the game, and somehow, I believe that whatever GM is trying to do, it will be half-assed compared to Toyota's global efforts.

Toyota has all but completed their plan to create an integrated, flexible, global manufacturing system Every single global Toyota plant has been designed both to customize cars for local markets and to shift producting to quickly satisfy any surges in demand from markets worldwide. For example, if European demand outstrips supply from the European plants, then its South Africa plant can pick up the slack without the expense of building another billion dollar factory. Once in full swing, Toyota will be unstoppable. GM, Ford, DCX, Honda, Nissan have nothing that compares. The amount of costs and process redesign will cut BILLIONS of dollars in expenses. This keeps margins high and profits strong, freeing up capital to design new cars faster and more efficiently than anyone in the world. And if somehow this plan stumbles, Toyota's got a cash supply almost as large as Microsoft's.

It's taken Toyota a better part of a decade to establish their network globally. GM's just starting to do so just in the US. I hardly think GM's Trollhattan plant is talking to Spring Hill.

Toyota has 5x the market cap of GM, 3x the operating profit of GM and on average can make a car 3 hours faster than GM with and average 68 defects less per car.

Good luck GM.... you'll need it. By 2010, Toyota will be inching closer to the #1 spot. And they won't be looking back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
164 Posts
Straight forward:
If GM wants to have Saturn between Honda and Volkswagen, they have to change the brand, add more models and offer better interior. Exteriors of course have to be more modern and clean!! The Ion is the WORST GM car I KNOW OF, maybe behind Buick Park Avenue??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
Originally posted by mgescuro@Jan 31 2004, 01:55 AM

Good luck GM.... you'll need it. By 2010, Toyota will be inching closer to the #1 spot. And they won't be looking back.
Why are you people even on this board. You remind me of the little ricers who go into the F-body boards to say that their celica can lay down the smack. Do you people belive your own crock of ****??? Get in your little four banger and just drive away, slowly apparantly because they don't go any faster... And why the hell is everyone jumping on the "lets complain about Buick bandwagon", that Park Ave Ultra is baddass...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44,258 Posts
Originally posted by Askani+Jan 30 2004, 11:51 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Askani @ Jan 30 2004, 11:51 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-mgescuro@Jan 31 2004, 01:55 AM

Good luck GM.... you'll need it.  By 2010, Toyota will be inching closer to the #1 spot.  And they won't be looking back.
Why are you people even on this board. You remind me of the little ricers who go into the F-body boards to say that their celica can lay down the smack. Do you people belive your own crock of ****??? Get in your little four banger and just drive away, slowly apparantly because they don't go any faster... And why the hell is everyone jumping on the "lets complain about Buick bandwagon", that Park Ave Ultra is baddass... [/b][/quote]
Oh calm down. Don't get your panties in a bunch.

I love GM as much as the next person on this board.
Fact of the matter is, GM is decades behind Toyota in coordinating their factories. Fact is, Toyota rolled on past Ford 2 years earlier than anyone else predicted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44,258 Posts
Originally posted by markform+Jan 31 2004, 03:20 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (markform @ Jan 31 2004, 03:20 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-mgescuro@Jan 31 2004, 01:55 AM
Toyota has all but completed their plan to create an integrated, flexible, global manufacturing system  Every single global Toyota plant has been designed both to customize cars for local markets and to shift producting to quickly satisfy any surges in demand from markets worldwide.
Your argument might hold water if GM and Toyota were building refridgerators.

Cars are different. I have to like the way a car looks and drives before I'll consider buying it. Most Toyota designs are either copied from competitors - or just plain ugly. And every Toyota/Lexus I've driven (except for the MR2) has been a forgettable experience.

I'm not dissing Toyota because they are Japanese. I've owned a Honda Accord, Nissan 300ZX and an Acura Legend. I've just never driven or seen a Toyota that I wanted.

So I say, whatever floats your boat, go for it. If you get off on driving the most efficiently built car - who am I to tell you that you're wrong? Just don't expect to see me (or millions of others) driving one of these eyesores anytime in the foreseeable future. [/b][/quote]
Read the November 17, 2003 issue of "Businessweek" for more details on Toyota global strategy. It is reality.

And you're right, Toyota designs are very boring. But with all due respect, that's the only thing that's really holding them back, isn't it?? And they're already working on revised designs. Toyota's got the cash and the capital and the profit margins because they build the most efficiently, to keep pushing itself. But what happens when Toyota finally figures out their designs??

GM shouldn't be treating Saturn and the Saturn factory this way. What SHOULD have happened was the lessons learned AT Saturn should have disseminated to all the other GM plants. Nope. Didn't happen. And that's just sad.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Originally posted by mgescuro@Jan 30 2004, 08:55 PM
Toyota has all but completed their plan to create an integrated, flexible, global manufacturing system  Every single global Toyota plant has been designed both to customize cars for local markets and to shift producting to quickly satisfy any surges in demand from markets worldwide.  For example, if European demand outstrips supply from the European plants, then its South Africa plant can pick up the slack without the expense of building another billion dollar factory.  Once in full swing, Toyota will be unstoppable.  GM, Ford, DCX, Honda, Nissan have nothing that compares. 
It's taken Toyota a better part of a decade to establish their network globally.  GM's just starting to do so just in the US.  I hardly think GM's Trollhattan plant is talking to Spring Hill.
Good points. GM's other big problem, in my opinion, is too many brands unique to the US.

It would save GM much time and money if instead of spending all of the effort and cash to make a Cobalt, they could just rebadge an Opel Astra. Or simply use rebadged Opels for Saturn's unique vehicles.

Sure Toyota has "Scion", but they are just rebadged Toyotas from Japan's home market.

The UAW might not like it, but here's how GM could become global and competitive:

Pontiac=Most of Holden's RWD lineup + a FEW US vehicles
Chevy=Holden co-developed/GM Daewoo/Opel rebadged cars, US designed TRUCKS - can't beat a Chevy Truck.
Buick=Holden Statesman, Suzuki Verona for entry to replace Century, "softened" and de-tuned Cadillacs. (don't tell me Buick can't have a Verona/Daewoo, they're getting a friggin restyled Venture...and having a cheap vehicle like this to take Buick's rental fleet duties will help relieve price depreciation pressure on the really nice Buicks)
GMC= well, it's all rebadged stuff basically anyway - dump it or keep it
Saturn = All rebadged Opels as per Vauxhall, with one unique vehicle - no more plastic panels anyway, why keep forcing unusual styling and wasting money?

Lots of RWD vehicles for the US, co-developed with Holden.

Note I'm not even saying these "Opel" or "Holden" cars can't be made in the USA, I'm just saying why waste all of the engineering and design effort making something the Auto Media and much of the public won't like anyway? (New Malibu vs. Opel Vectra)

Why spend time making the New Malibu look all homely when you could have just used this? Or even Pontiac could have used it and just added a split port grille...



Tell me it would cost millions to just put a friggin Chevy emblem in the grille there.... :zippy:



"But it doesn't fit with Chevy's Image..." :chef:

That's the problem... :rolleyes: ...and people at GM wonder why "Gen Y" prefers imports to Monte Carlos, Cavaliers, and Impalas...
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,944 Posts
Holy Cow!

Wow...I'm glad there are so many marketing geniuses on this site..


Of course....how stupid can GM be....they dont know anything...they only made a kagillion dollars last year....

Every GM car sold in the US should just be an Opel...just change the grille....

No models....just all versions of the Opel, screw making any kind of models, or distinctive cars....

LOOK how well it's working for OPEL......(see related story)

No trucks
No vans
No SUV's
No Sports cars
No large sedans

No nothing..

Just Opels with different grilles. Bingo, I think we've solved all of GM"s problems.


Saturn was a subsidiary of GM, which I think that it will still will be. So what if it's geting more models.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44,258 Posts
Here's the thing. I'm all for "Using Opels, so long as they all don't end up looking like a Catera or L300." More differentiation, etc etc etc.

But that's the path GM is pursuing at the moment. You've got Sigmas, Deltas, Epsilons, Kappas. You'll have interchangeability between Saab, Chevy, Saturn, Pontiac, etc. BUT the big problem is, if the Trollhattan plan that is producing the Delta(?) 9-3, isn't capable of producing the Malibu for European markets, then GM has an economies of scale problem. So if Chevy wants to bring Malibu over to Europe (it may happen) or some other Delta to Europe, the GM will have to make them in the US, incurr shipping/transportation costs, etc. Would be easier to make them in Sweden.

That's the different between where Toyota is now and GM now. If it took Toyota the better part of a decade to realize these sort of efficiencies, then it will take GM about 15. And by that time, Toyota could conceivably be making a run for the #1 spot -- assuming everything stays the same.

If Toyota can build the Corolla in CA and Japan or at any other plant worldwide at the drop of a hat to meet consumer demand, they could meet market demand in the shortest time possible compared to any other major auto maker in the world.

Most likely, it's a UAW issue. Union demands are all but forcing US auto makers into a non-compete situation. Gm and Ford just can't compete because of the UAW. If this continues, I can forsee GM and Ford moving manufacturing offshore just to keep costs competitive with everyone else who doesn't have UAW on their back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
776 Posts
Yes, that's exactly what we need GM to be, a big profit-hog that makes the most boring cars on the planet. Then it can give it's workers low-pay and put profit into the hands of billionaires that won't spend the money. You people are so smart. You'd have us all buy Camrys? One of the most crap-tacular cars there are? Great. Then you would eliminate 10's of thousands of jobs that help to distribute wealth to the consumer? I sure hope all of you advocating this crap are independently wealthy because this little gem of a plan wouldn't just hurt people who like nice cars (as opposed to lumps like Toyotas) it would hurt people who like to have jobs in the U.S.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,861 Posts
Originally posted by mgescuro+Jan 31 2004, 01:55 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (mgescuro @ Jan 31 2004, 01:55 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Ming@Jan 30 2004, 07:05 PM
GM wants to create a global network of flexible manufacturing plants based on common practices to let the automaker shift production of different lines and models to various factories as needed to match the competitors, especially the Japanese companies, Wall said.

To survive, Saturn had to become part of this strategy. And for the union, it was adapt or die.

"We didn't want to put all our eggs in one basket," Martinez said. "I don't think Saturn is being folded into another brand. I think we'll continue as a unique facility that allows union participation, but it won't be the 50-50 partnership we had before."

Last year, Saturn represented only about 6 percent of the GM vehicles sold in the United States, and it has made money in only one of the last 13 years.
Sorry GM. You are EXTREMELY late in the game, and somehow, I believe that whatever GM is trying to do, it will be half-assed compared to Toyota's global efforts.

Toyota has all but completed their plan to create an integrated, flexible, global manufacturing system Every single global Toyota plant has been designed both to customize cars for local markets and to shift producting to quickly satisfy any surges in demand from markets worldwide. For example, if European demand outstrips supply from the European plants, then its South Africa plant can pick up the slack without the expense of building another billion dollar factory. Once in full swing, Toyota will be unstoppable. GM, Ford, DCX, Honda, Nissan have nothing that compares. The amount of costs and process redesign will cut BILLIONS of dollars in expenses. This keeps margins high and profits strong, freeing up capital to design new cars faster and more efficiently than anyone in the world. And if somehow this plan stumbles, Toyota's got a cash supply almost as large as Microsoft's.

It's taken Toyota a better part of a decade to establish their network globally. GM's just starting to do so just in the US. I hardly think GM's Trollhattan plant is talking to Spring Hill.

Toyota has 5x the market cap of GM, 3x the operating profit of GM and on average can make a car 3 hours faster than GM with and average 68 defects less per car.

Good luck GM.... you'll need it. By 2010, Toyota will be inching closer to the #1 spot. And they won't be looking back. [/b][/quote]
Fujio Cho? Is that you? :D
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Originally posted by MCGARRETT@Jan 31 2004, 03:15 PM
Of course....how stupid can GM be....they dont know anything...they only made a kagillion dollars last year....

Every GM car sold in the US should just be an Opel...just change the grille....
Notice I didn't mention Cadillac.

If GM could just do its other brands like it has Cadillac, Opel will be wanting cars from the US, not vice versa.

But so far GM North America Design has proven to me that it is really good at making Trucks, Retro vehicles, and some concepts for Chevy, while they seem to be intentionally missing the mark for Chevy CARS that look good inside and out.

The best looking CARS from GM now are the Cadillacs and the Pontiac Solstice. The G6 and Grand Prix got attacked by the Blanderizer, but look above average. Same with the Cobalt.

All I'm saying is that if you are going to BASE your car on the Opel Vectra, why waste money making it look more boring and unappealing?

GM North America still makes some of the best looking big trucks, and Opel can't compete there with its European market. Now if only the interiors were as nice...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
215 Posts
Originally posted by Ming+Feb 1 2004, 04:27 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ming @ Feb 1 2004, 04:27 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-MCGARRETT@Jan 31 2004, 03:15 PM
Of course....how stupid can GM be....they dont know anything...they only made a kagillion dollars last year....

Every GM car sold in the US should just be an Opel...just change the grille....
Notice I didn't mention Cadillac.

If GM could just do its other brands like it has Cadillac, Opel will be wanting cars from the US, not vice versa.

But so far GM North America Design has proven to me that it is really good at making Trucks, Retro vehicles, and some concepts for Chevy, while they seem to be intentionally missing the mark for Chevy CARS that look good inside and out.

The best looking CARS from GM now are the Cadillacs and the Pontiac Solstice. The G6 and Grand Prix got attacked by the Blanderizer, but look above average. Same with the Cobalt.

All I'm saying is that if you are going to BASE your car on the Opel Vectra, why waste money making it look more boring and unappealing?

GM North America still makes some of the best looking big trucks, and Opel can't compete there with its European market. Now if only the interiors were as nice... [/b][/quote]
I disagree with you about the G6 and Cobalt being "bland"....contemporary, not bland. Would you want everything gm produces to be a new wild design. Bottom line is that people wouldnt buy completely wild cars. The G6 and Cobalt have very nice subtle style.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Originally posted by chicubs@Jan 31 2004, 11:57 PM
Bottom line is that people wouldnt buy completely wild cars.  The G6 and Cobalt have very nice subtle style.
Cadillac's sales are way up since styling got wilder - I think GM is hurting itself by going bland on purpose. Only Toyota can afford to be bland - they sell on their "bulletproof reliabilty" etc.

The G6 concept had some great creases in the sheetmetal and other features that got Blanderized out of the final product - perhaps to share more in common with its Malibu sibling. I like it, but not nearly as much as the concept car ---- The Pontiac Solstice on the other hand looks even BETTER(!) than the concept, I think.

I like the Cobalt coupe's looks a lot - again, I'm not convinced it was a huge step up from the Opel Astra design the Detroit design guys just had to get their mitts on(but it does look nicer than the Saturn ION, which was too over the top). It seems like the main concern of the Detroit designers is how to cheapen the exterior so that they can still turn a profit with the high hourly UAW wages or something...



When I look at these cars, and then what GM gives us in the US as versions of the same cars (often with older or lower tech powertrains), I have to wonder WHY. Toyota & Honda don't cheapen their product for the US nearly as much.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44,258 Posts
Originally posted by banzai79@Jan 31 2004, 05:39 PM
Yes, that's exactly what we need GM to be, a big profit-hog that makes the most boring cars on the planet. Then it can give it's workers low-pay and put profit into the hands of billionaires that won't spend the money. You people are so smart. You'd have us all buy Camrys? One of the most crap-tacular cars there are? Great. Then you would eliminate 10's of thousands of jobs that help to distribute wealth to the consumer? I sure hope all of you advocating this crap are independently wealthy because this little gem of a plan wouldn't just hurt people who like nice cars (as opposed to lumps like Toyotas) it would hurt people who like to have jobs in the U.S.
Nooo... that's not what I said.
There is nothing wrong with GM becoming equally as efficient as Toyota and being able to shift car production to any plant in the world at the drop of a hat.

I never mentioned anything abobut bland cars.
besides, this all started because Saturn was being brought into the fold of GM. That's fine and all, but Saturn was teh "Great experiment." They were going to incorporate all the production efficiencies so they could make quality cars at a relatively cheap cost. Now what. They get brought into the fold and practically EVERYTHING that was learned at Saturn is thrown out the door. It should not be that way. It's very disappointing that GM is doing this. I only mention Toyota because they didn't do any of that BS. They went out and just did it. GM has learned nothing from Saturn.

Gm had the most efficient car plant in the US at one point in time (Buick City?). It's where the Le Sabre was made. It's quality was as high or higher than the best of the Japanese. And it gets shut down. SpringHill as well. NUMMI control shifts to Toyota. And the story goes on.

Sorry... but UAW doesn't exaclty make GM and FOrd the most efficient production companies. If this continues, GM and FOrd will just start making cars outside the US. They're almost to that point now.
 
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
Top