In these uncertain times, there are still those things that can be predicted with 100-percent certainty. One of those is that Saturn will be spinning out of GM’s orbit in the near future.
GM has admitted they want to either “wind down” or sell Saturn. Rumors have been swirling about a deal to sell Saturn to an ownership group led by Black Oak Partners, LLC. We don’t know much at all about Black Oak Partners, but our opinion is that it might as well be the Oak Ridge Boys, because Saturn has little chance of survival on its own.
There was a time and place when a stand-alone Saturn made sense. That time was about 1993 or 1994 when Saturn’s products were unique, and the buzz about the company was that it made great import-fighters.
GM management’s ego, greed, shortsightedness, and general strategic-ADD quickly made Saturn irrelevant. The new company with new products morphed into a young company with a stale product line. Almost fifteen years passed before the division actually received some decent products again. Unfortunately, the products Saturn received were all badge-engineered with other GM products.
So it begs the obvious question: why would anyone – Black Oak Ridge Boys Partners Blues Brothers Band or any of the other rumored “multiple suitors” want to buy a company that only produces products that are nearly identical to other products on the market? Even if Saturn’s offerings are in many ways better than its current platform- mates, that’s still a huge problem. Furthermore, with ultra-high CAFE standards staring manufacturers in the face, an independent Saturn would need some serious deep pockets for R+D.
It’s sad…the Sky roadster could have been a legend. It was prettier than the Solstice and a better size than competition like the Miata. Like all GM vehicles, it needed another generation to work out the cost-induced quality (meaning not-engineered-out) glitches. Similarly, the Aura could have evolved into a great Accord/Camry killer, instead of just an “alternative”.
And imagine had GM been more Johnny-on-the-spot and brought the Volt technology out quicker and put Saturn as the cutting-edge hybrid leader. Instead, if anyone buys Saturn, they’ll need to license the Volt technology from GM, rather than possibly buying the Saturn Volt technology and licensing it back to GM. (Yes, we know GM would have never let it happen, but as they say – “if the price was right!”)
Instead we’ll probably see Black Oak Partners or a bunch of dealers buy Saturn. And just like all the times it happened in the past (remember when Avanti was bought from Studebaker?) the company will quickly fall from relevance, but slowly fizzle out of existence.