Back on April 1st, an article appeared on NewsTimes.com claiming that Saturn had found a suitor. While many initially dismissed it as an April Fool’s joke, Saturn of Danbury owner (and early Saturn insider) Todd Ingersoll was telling anybody who would listen that a deal was in the works that would assure Saturn’s long-term future. While Ingersoll didn’t come forward with the specifics of the deal or the name of the interested party (or parties), it seemed like an honest attempt at reassuring consumers that Saturn wasn’t a dead brand walking.
Weeks have come and gone, however, and nothing seems to have come of it. Meanwhile, the Pontiac and Hummer branches have been lopped off the future GM family tree, and Saab and Saturn have degenerated to sell or scrap status. While GM’s overall attitude toward a potential sale of the Saab brand seems fairly positive, the future of Saturn doesn’t look so rosy. Earlier estimates predicted the Saturn network would stay around until 2011 or 2012 — plenty of time to court new ownership — but GM is now saying that it’s on the chopping block for the end of this year.
So what is the key to Saturn’s future? It all comes down to Chrysler.
For those who are trying to pick the important details out of the GM restructuring stories flying around today, here’s what we know so far:
(Updated 5:00 p.m., 4/27) — Pontiac is to be phased out entirely by the end of 2010; Hummer and Saturn will be phased out by the end of 2009; Saab will hopefully be sold off shortly, and it seems GM is fairly confident this will happen. — The G8 will be gone as of the end of this model year (2009). — The G6, G3, Solstice and Torrent will slowly disappear through the 2009 and 2010 model years. — The Vibe will likely be the final production vehicle in the lineup. — More than 20,000 layoffs are expected, though it’s not known yet which divisions (obviously, Pontiac-related is a safe bet here) and facilities will be impacted. — There will be an “acceleration” of plant idling and shut-down along with a significant reduction in the dealer network — reportedly up to 40%. — The restructuring plan will result in the taxpayers and union trusts owning a hefty chunk of General Motors. — Bankruptcy is still not off the table. — There is currently no viable offer on the table for the Saturn dealership network.