Goodbye Saturn, Goodbye Hybrid Salesby Tim Manni
General Motors will lose over 25% of their hybrid-car sales when Saturn is closed down later this year. The hybrid versions of the Saturn Vue and Aura accounted for GM’s second most hybrid sales in 2008, just behind Chevrolet.
By losing such a large percentage of their fuel-efficient-vehicle sales, analysts are concerned whether or not GM will be able to accommodate the White House’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards:
The hit to GM’s CAFE average will be partially mitigated by the shuttering of Hummer and Pontiac, but sources told Automotive News that Saturn’s hybrid technology will still likely need to be used in cars from the remaining brands. That’s because hybrid versions of the Chevy Malibu and Silverado and the GMC Sierra Hybrid probably won’t cut it when it comes to CAFE, and the much-hyped Chevy Volt will make up only a negligible portion of the market when it’s released.
It will be interesting to see how this will influence the negotiations surrounding the anemic automaker. Experts are skeptical whether even moderate portions of Saturn’s hybrid technology will be transferred to GM’s surviving brands — at least right away. GM officials say the future of their alternative-fuel technology lies mostly in their hybrid plug-in, the Chevy Volt:
“They’ve made it clear from their recovery plan that the Chevrolet Volt is GM’s fuel economy future,” O’Dell said. “We know GM has many more vehicles than the Volt in its arsenal that has a Volt-style extended-range powertrain.”
GM’s current restructuring deadline is June 1. The automaker is continuing negotiations with the auto union, bond holders, and the Federal government to avoid the same fate as their longtime rival Chrysler.