General Motors leaders told Saturn dealers today that funding has been allocated to build Saturn vehicles through 2012 and in some cases 2013. But they stopped short of saying Saturn would get new products and wont be killed.
"We are still working through many options," but Saturn is "not going away in 30 days," said Todd Ingersoll, a Saturn dealer on the Franchise Operations Team who attended a Saturn dealer meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans. "That is good to know."
Ingersoll, who owns Saturn stores in Danbury and Watertown, Conn., says GM leaders did not specify if the Saturn products will get new styling or engineering. He said the dealers at the 90-minute meeting were glad just to know "theres something beyond 30 or 40 days from now."
After the meeting, Mark LaNeve, GMs vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, told Automotive News: "We have all the current products funded. What we told them was the biggest issue is slimming down our product cadence. We dont have enough finances to fund all these brands."
LaNeve said GM is pushing hard to make a decision on Saturn in February. "Were working all the options," he said. "Wed love to find a way to continue the brand, but theres nothing definitive I can tell you today."
In an interview Saturday, Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak said the brand should have clear direction for its future in the next three or four weeks. Part of that will be to figure out how to reduce the brands structural costs and create a business model that is profitable. In the past 20 years, Saturn has been profitable only one year.
Ingersoll said GM leaders told dealers at the meeting "it has to be a win-win. But from a brand perspective its important to drive home the point that it doesnt have a 30-day window for when itll be around, its extended. Theyre saying look weve got production and were ready to go."