Saturn, a once-thriving automotive company, was known for trying to break the mold of traditional car large car brands. Keep reading to learn about Saturn’s history, some of the company’s most popular models, and other interesting facts.
Saturn Corporation was founded in the early 1980s by those at General Motors (GM). Created to compete with other popular Japanese vehicles from companies like Toyota and Datsun, Saturn was meant to provide the public with affordable compact cars that did not sacrifice quality or style. Its first headquarters was located in Spring Hill, TN, where the company constructed a large factory with the intent of mass-producing vehicles. By 1990, Saturn had released its first vehicle, the SL2. Available in coupe and sedan models, the SL2 was an immediate hit. To differentiate itself from other brands, GM created independent Saturn dealerships and factories separate from other vehicles. By 1995, Saturn had produced one million cars. The late 90s and early 2000s proved to be exceptionally good for the company, causing them to create more models. The S-Series and L-Series were the two most popular lines.
Despite the company’s moderate success in the global automotive market, by 2008, Saturn was not performing as well as it should. GM attempted to sell the brand to Penske, but the deal, unfortunately, fell through. By 2010, GM decided to close Saturn’s doors for good. Production officially ended in October of 2009 with outstanding services and businesses closing by 2010.
In Saturn’s short history, they only had one logo. It was simple, yet effective in setting Saturn apart from other brands that had more complex and hard-to-understand logos. The background was a red square with intersecting chrome lines and a chrome outline. According to 1000 Logos, the name “Saturn” was derived from NASA (both the planet and rockets used by the government organization). Sometimes, the name of the company was featured in a futuristic font underneath the logo.
Saturn vehicles were always popular among drivers, but not quite what the company had hoped. These cars entered the market at a higher price than some of the models they were competing against, which could have contributed to some of the disappointment on GM’s part. What the company didn’t expect, however, was the impact that Saturn sales would have on other GM models.
The chart below depicts the company’s sales from 1990 (when the first model was released) to 2010 (when the company closed). According to statistics from CarSales Base, Saturn had a large initial growth period from 1990 to 1991, when it went from selling less than 2,000 vehicles in their first year to over 70,000 the next. The company’s most successful year was in 1994, where it sold 286,003 units.
Many Different Models
Saturn produced two lines, ten years apart: the S-Series and the L-Series. Both produced popular models. Here’s a list of some of Saturn’s most popular vehicles.
As one of the more popular four-door midsize sedans of the day, the Aura was meant to replace earlier lackluster Saturn models from the late 90s. Similar to the Astra, it was released too late in Saturn’s history for it to be immensely successful.
According to Hot Cars, the Astra was known for its “handling, upscale interior, and strong equipment levels.” It was released in 2007 towards the end of Saturn’s company history, not giving it much of a chance to succeed in the market. However, it is predicted that it would have been a popular vehicle among drivers.
The Vue was the first SUV that saturn unveiled. Released in 2002, it proved to be successful in a growing market for larger vehicles in the United States.
Hidden headlights and a three-door concept (for the second generation) were what set the S-Series coupe apart from other vehicles on the market. It was also available in a sedan option.
Considered an honorable mention, the Sky was one of the last models that Saturn ever produced. Although it was not extremely popular, it was much sportier than any other model that the company came out with. It was available in a convertible model.
Meant to compete with Japanese companies, Saturn was started in the United States and popularized in the American market. Starting in Spring Hill TN, the company’s headquarters were later moved to Detroit, MI. They were not marketed to the Asian or European markets.
Early Saturn models were lacking in the safety department, with some missing airbags and comprehensive seat belt systems. In the early 1990s, many safety organizations expressed concern over the effectiveness of these vehicles, causing them to have a complete restructuring to their safety systems. By 1995, however, they were passing tests with flying colors.
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