DETROIT — As General Motors executives weigh the future of the disappointing Saturn division, GM is not allocating new money toward future Saturn products, according to a source familiar with GM's budget.
In a plan submitted to Congress last week, GM said it would "explore alternatives" for the Saturn brand, which has "performed below expectations."
GM's plan says the company will focus "substantially all of its product development and marketing resources" to support its Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC brands.
Saturn's next scheduled substantial new-product change is a freshening of the Aura sedan in 2010.
GM executives have been disappointed with Saturn's weak sales in light of its strong new vehicle lineup. But although GM isn't sure what to do with the brand, GM is not ready to give up, insists Mark LaNeve, GM vice president of North American vehicle sales, service and marketing in an interview with Automotive News.
Saturn can't be sold, and closing the division could cost cash-strapped GM more than $1 billion in dealer buyouts alone.
Saturn's Franchise Operations Team — a council of eight dealers — will meet with Saturn and other executives Thursday, Dec. 11, and Friday, Dec. 12, in Detroit to discuss how to make the brand profitable, a Saturn spokesman says.
Saturn declined to make General Manager Jill Lajdziak available for this story.
"Saturn has a product program, both current and future, that is currently in our plans," LaNeve says. "But a lot of what is in our plans is in a state of flux right now given the state of the economy and everything."