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Saturn launches marketing campaign, spiffs to clear inventory

Saturn launches marketing campaign, spiffs to clear inventory

Jamie LaReau
Automotive News | November 3, 2009 – 12:16 pm EST


DETROIT — General Motors Co. is launching a new marketing campaign and incentives to push out its remaining Saturn inventory, which means the brand could be wound down within three months, a GM executive said today.

GM has about 9,400 Saturn units in stock as of the end of October, Susan Docherty, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales, said during a sales conference call.

She said she does not anticipate any hurdles to selling the remaining inventory quickly.

Said Docherty: “Starting next week, we’ll have a print campaign which features that product. In the next 90 days, we’ll have cleaned up that inventory. I’m not worried about it at all.”

But dealers have reported that Saturn sales came to a screeching halt last month after a deal to sell the brand to Penske Automotive Group went sour.

At Motor City Auto Center in Bakersfield, Calif., 21 new Saturns were sold in September. But last month the dealership sold only seven.

General Manager John Pitre has 51 Saturns in stock — which at the current rate will last him at least five months, he said. But like many other Saturn dealers, he is in no rush to move the inventory.

“We’re in a holding pattern,” Pitre said. “It’ll probably take six months to locate and secure another franchise for that facility, so we want to keep it up and running for that amount of time.”

Today GM began an incentive program that runs through the end of the month. Consumers can get either $4,000 off of any 2008 or 2009 Saturn or 0 percent financing for 72 months.

In addition, a loyalty mailing to current Saturn owners offers an additional $1,000 in cash. That’s regardless of whether they trade in their Saturn vehicle.

“They have to have owned or leased their Saturn vehicle for a minimum of six months to qualify,” said GM spokesman John McDonald. “They get $1,000 cash, and that can be combined with other incentives.”

Through the first 10 months, U.S. sales for Saturn collapsed 62 percent from the same period of 2008, down to 63,839 vehicles. Sales in October plunged 57.8 percent to 3,623 vehicles, GM said today.

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