The History Of Saturn

For the cars collectively known as Saturns, see Saturn S-Series.

Saturn is a division of the General Motors Corporation and a brand of automobiles. It was established on January 7, 1985. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of GM, it manufactures automobiles in the United States. GM began manufacturing Saturn cars in 1990, largely in response to the success of Japanese & German small-car imports in the United States, such as Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Starting in the 21st century, Saturn is becoming the US brand for Opel vehicles, similar to Vauxhall Motors in the UK.

  • 1985
    • "What Kind Of Car Is That? It's A Saturn!"
  • 1989-1994:
    • "A Different Kind of Car Company" (US)
    • "We've reinvented the automobile." (Canada)
  • 1994-2002: "A Different Kind of Company, A Different Kind of Car."
  • 2002-2004: "It's Different in a Saturn"
  • 2004-2006: "People First"
  • 2006-2007: "Like Always. Like Never Before."
  • 2007-present:
    • Formerly "Rethink American.", later "Rethink." (US)
    • "Like Always. Like Never Before.", later "Rethink." (Canada)
    • "Passion for the Road." (Spanish-speaking US slogan)

The company's products used a dedicated platform called the Z-body and a dedicated engine, the 1.9L Saturn I4 engine, and a dedicated plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. All of the original Saturns featured dent-resistant plastic body panels which were also touted as allowing the company to change the look of the vehicles readily. However, in practice, the company did not take advantage of this capability often.

Saturn S-Series cars were produced from 1991-2002. There were 3 Generations of S-Series Cars. First Generation S-Series cars were produced from 1991-1994. For the 1995 Model year, Saturn implemented a "First Generation" exterior, and "Second Generation" interior. The exterior of the 1995 model year looked the same as the first generation cars, but exhibited larger gauge faces on the instrument cluster, and a redesigned middle console. First Generation engines were rated at 85 Horsepower for the Single Overhead Cam Engines, while the Dual Overhead Cam Engines were rated at 124 Horsepower for the entire run of S-Series cars (1991-2002). In 1996, the Second Generation S-Series Sedan was introduced and remained virtually unchanged for the rest of the vehicle's production run. In 1997, the Second Generation of the Sport Coupe model was introduced with a more "scooped" headlight front. The S-Series was produced in three variations: Coupe (SC), Sedan (SL), and Wagon (SW). The Wagon was introduced for the 1993 Model year and was produced until 2001.

The first real change came with the 2000 Saturn L-Series mid-size car. It shared the GM2900 platform with the Opel Vectra, along with its engine, and was built at a GM factory in Wilmington, Delaware. The Saturn Sky is now being produced in the Wilmington factory along with the essentially identical Opel GT and the closely-related Pontiac Solstice.

In recent years, sales had been in decline. Ion production lines were halted for two weeks in 2003 to allow dealer inventory to reduce. The L-Series was canceled after production of the 2005 models, and the Ion was canceled after 2007.

As of 2009[update] the company shares GM's Delta, Epsilon, Lambda and Theta platforms, and the company's Ecotec engines - including the new 2.4L LE5 I4, Turbo 2.0L LNF I4, and DCVCP 1.8L I4 - with the V6's being the High Feature LY7 3.6L V6 and High Value LZ4 3.5L V6 engines. The Saturn Vue used a Honda engine in the past, and the plastic body panels have been discontinued on most current vehicles.

The 2009 Saturn models are the Sky roadster, the Aura sedan, the Astra hatchback, the Vue small crossover SUV and the Outlook large crossover SUV built off of the GM Lambda platform (replacing the Relay minivan).

As of 2008[update] Saturns are virtually identical to certain Opel models. For example, the 2008 Saturn Vue is a rebadged Opel Antara, while the Opel GT is based on the Saturn Sky. The Opel Astra is imported as the Saturn Astra (replacing the Ion as the entry-level car), and the Saturn Aura is similar to the Opel Vectra. The Saturn Astra is built in Antwerp, Belgium.

The company offers two sub-lines of vehicles: "Red Line" Saturns are performance-oriented, while "Green Line" cars are more environmentally friendly hybrids. The Vue and Ion Red Line models, launched in 2004, have been joined by Vue and AURA Green Lines for the 2007 model year and a Sky Red Line the same model year. Saturn's Green Line vehicles utilize mild hybrid technology.

In US Congressional hearings on December 2nd, 2008, General Motors announced its intentions to only focus on four core brands (Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, Cadillac), with the sale, consolidation, or closure of Saturn and the remaining brands (Hummer, Saab, Pontiac).

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