ORLANDO, Fla. -- Saturn will step carefully through one of its biggest product launch years in more than a decade, General Manager Jill Lajdziak told dealers at the make meeting.
One critical issue: holding back on advertising until new products are in dealer lots.
Saturn and other brands have seen new product introductions tripped up by slow factory launches in the past. Customers saw new vehicles advertised that were not yet in showrooms, and ad budgets dwindled as dealers waited for allocations.
"Everybody wants to make sure that we have an introduction that goes well, and we're very focused on making sure that happens," Lajdziak said.
Over the next 10 months, Saturn will introduce the Sky roadster, Aura sedan, Outlook crossover and Vue Green Line hybrid SUV. Dealers have been taking customer orders for the Sky for several months, and some dealers asked Lajdziak about how quickly the convertible roadster will get to Saturn's 440 dealerships.
"We're all looking for a flawless execution of these deliveries, and that's not something we have a great tradition with," said Geoffrey Pohanka, president of Pohanka Automotive Group, which owns three Maryland stores. "This could be our comeback year."
Pohanka said some dealers already were unhappy with how the new vehicles are being displayed in public. At the meeting, he contended that both the Sky and Aura were underplayed at the Saturn exhibit at the recent Washington auto show.
"I think we missed some opportunities there," he said.
"They're planning this well," he added after the meeting. "It's up to us to make sure it all works out perfectly."
Lajdziak told dealers that Saturn will fully outline its plans for product rollout and marketing at a full franchise meeting in Dallas in April.
That two-day meeting, she said, will go over issues of marketing, advertising, customer relations and allocation for each product.
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