On the other hand, the Hummer brand managed to emerge from its ashes like Phoenix and turn itself into an EV brand, and its first model of the new era is seen as something that is as offensive as its first production model once was when it first debuted.
In case that slipped under your radar, we are referring to the entire – "who needs a truck this big" discussion, which is now a potential safety issue because the electric Hummer is too heavy for some U.S. roads, and its immense power and torque make it dangerously quick for a vehicle of its size.
But let us get back to Saturn, what it was, what happened to it, and what could have been today. When it was launched, Saturn was "a different kind of car company," which was also attempted by other manufacturers later, and they also implemented a "no-haggle pricing policy."
Saturn initially started out with positive reviews for its all-new models, which were built in Tennessee, and even came with dent-resistant polymer exterior panels to reduce the hassle and cost of a repair from minor scratches and dents, as well as offer the potential to make facelifting the vehicles easier for the manufacturer.
The latter part was not done, and the entire dent-proof thing was eventually replicated by various manufacturers with special paint, and the rest is up to insurance companies to sort between themselves. The ideas themselves were not wrong, and some were ahead of their time, but it did not cut it.
Toyota's Scion brand was also meant for younger customers, and it also focused on hassle-free selling. While Scion ended up being a bit more popular than Saturn, it did that in an entirely different era, back when Saturn was already getting closer and closer to its demise.
While Saturn was original for its first decade or so, with dedicated models that strayed from GM's parts bin as much as they could.
The trend had to stop when the range was expanded, and then Saturn went through a complex badge-engineering process that involved sharing platforms with various GM-owned brands. Most were rebadged Opel models from across the Atlantic, and that did not work out great for the young American brand.
Many years later, General Motors stopped selling its Chevrolet brand in Europe after investing a hefty amount of money in marketing in Europe and then started to look for partners for its Opel and Vauxhall brands. These were eventually sold to PSA Peugeot-Citroen, which turned the German and British marques back on a profitable road under Stellantis' umbrella.
Saturn would have definitely struggled to scramble new models once General Motors had sold its Opel brand, and rising manufacturing costs in the U.S. might not have justified its existence going further. Sadly, it could have been different if you ask us, but only if GM had done something that was seen as radical back in the late '90s.
Toyota tried to be radical with Scion from day one, and it caught one in the early 2000s, as the U.S. and Canada-only brand had an average buyer age of 39 instead of 54 years old (as it was for Toyota). Back then, the average buyer age of 39 was the lowest in the industry, and it proved that young people wanted a certain kind of vehicle and that automakers (at least one) were listening.
The financial crisis of 2008, as well as the fallout of that in respect to auto loans, the automotive industry itself, and many other industry trends, led to the demise of both Saturn and Scion, but the former was already on life support in its last few years, while the latter was just dropping sales.
Now, as we mentioned above, GM could have done something about Saturn if it wanted to save the marque, and that started in 1997 when it offered the GM EV1 in the brand's showrooms at the time. The EV1 obtained favorable reviews among those who drove one at the time, just like the first Saturns did.
Unlike the first Saturn cars, GM decided to get its EV1 models back, and crushed almost all the ones it had leased to customers. The sad fate of the EV1 continues to be sad today, as it could have made GM an Electric Vehicle pioneer, even if it did not have the cool factor brought to electric vehicles that came with Tesla Motors.
Saturn could have been all that, but only if enough people had seen the potential of EVs back then. Sadly, things turned out differently, and you might say that Saturn has felt the "curse" of the EV1 worse than GM. It must be a bit frustrating to think that General Motors had the first mass-produced electric vehicle on the market in the modern era, years ahead of any other brand, and it was also a specially-designed model, too, not an adaptation.
It is a bittersweet irony, if you will, but we fail to find the sweet part anymore, as GM needed sixteen years to launch its next EV after the EV1, the Spark EV, and an extra three years since the debut of the EV1 to come up with a worth successor. GM's first purpose-built EV after the EV1 is the Chevrolet Bolt, and some feel that the automaker shot itself in the leg when it killed off the EV1.