Quick History Of Saturn Motor Company


The Saturn auto company began in 1985 as an off shoot of General Motors company. It began as a reaction to the success of Japanese autos in the United States and GM wanted to cash in on this market. It was marketed with the slogan a “different kind of car company” and worked somewhat independently from GM and had it’s very own assembly plant in Spring Hill Tennessee as well as separate retailer network. Saturn unfortunately was discontinued in the year 2009 after penske automotive withdrew its bid for the auto company.

Saturn began as Alex C. Mair began to talk about a revolutionary new small-car project codenamed “Saturn” in the year 1982. General Motors chairman Roger B. Smith demonstrated was shown 12 months later. In the year 1985 the Saturn Corporation was officially started. Saturn was originally supposed to be released under one of its own brands such as Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile or Pontiac. The plan changed and GM released Saturn under its very own brand with it’s first models being Saturn SC and Saturn SL. Production started in 1990 and 1991.

In 1990 the chairman of GM Roger Smith and Owen Bieber drove the first saturn right off the assembly line in SPring Hill, Tennessee. It was marketed as a “different kind of car company” and operated away from GM’s standards and practices in it’s very own assembly plant. They wanted to establish it’s very own image and brand that could capitalize on the Japanese auto market that had become so successful in the United States.

Initial reports on Saturn were pessimistic. The wall street journal declared the project much too ambitious because of how many different things that GM was to take on at once. They established a new car, a new plant, newly trained workforce a brand new dealer network and completely different manufacturing plant. In comparison not even Toyota, the gold standard of Japanese automakers, took on more than two new items in a project. Saturns were extremely popular but sales never hit the projected targets partially because of the recession in 1990. Saturn was also in direct competition with GM as 41% sold already owned a GM car. It also created anger and resentment amongst other GM car plants as the project took $5 billion from other car projects and had much higher costs than its Japanese counterparts.

The Saturn brand became well known for its “no haggle” prices. The first Saturn S-series was the most successful. Saturn entered the Canadian market and sold nearly 500,000 Saturns. In the year 1995 Saturn produced it’s millionth car. By 1999 Saturn had produced it’ s2 millionth car and began production of it’s new L-series.

Despite Saturns success GM decided to focus on its four core brands (Cadillac, GMC, Buick, Chevrolet) at the US congressional hearings in December 2008. GM decided to sell and consolidate Saturn and it’s remaining brands of Pontiac, Hummer and Saab. It remained in operation through it’s last life cycle from 2010-2011. There was a plan to originally sell Saturn to Penske automotive group but the sale fell to pieces and all 46 Saturn dealerships were closed by the end of 2009.

To keep some Saturn customers with GM they offered a $2,000 incentive package when purchasing new Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick or GMC vehicles. They were not required to trade them in but were required to own them for 6 months.

While Saturn was a popular and successful car company GM was forced to close it down because of the state of the economy. The Saturn L-series is still known as an extremely reliable car and is still much sought after to this day.

When looking for a used car make sure you keep Saturn in mind when doing your shopping. They often times last into the hundreds of thousands of miles and cost very little to repair. Their reliability is legendary.


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