By David Thomas on April 27, 2009
During GM’s announcement today that Pontiac would no longer exist after 2010, the company also said it would stop producing new Saturns after the 2009 model year and Hummers by the end of 2009.
Previously, GM had said it would build Saturn through 2011. The 2009 model year is currently being sold; GM generally switches over to the new model year during the summer. This means no new Saturns — and likely no new Hummers — will roll off assembly lines after this summer.
While the end of Pontiac may be seen as a sad day to automotive buffs, the same can’t be said for Saturn and Hummer. The two brands don’t have the cachet or fanbase of the 83-year-old Pontiac. However, this accelerated timeline caught the industry off guard.
If you’re thinking of buying a car or SUV from either brand, spokesmen from both companies say that they will be fully backed by GM’s warranty until either brand is sold. That same warranty is also backed by the U.S. government for any GM vehicle sold through May 31.
Both Saturn and Hummer are in the process of being sold to new owners. There are a number of scenarios for each brand, which we detail below.
Saturn’s sale would be enticing for any company looking for a relatively large dealer network in the U.S. A new buyer might not want to keep the Saturn name; all dealerships would change over to a new brand. Saturn owners would then have to get their cars serviced at another GM brand’s dealership, or arrangements could be made for the newly branded stores to continue warranty work for Saturns, as well. These details would be a fundamental part of any sale.
Saturn spokesman Mike Morrissey says that GM could also be contracted to build the current Saturn lineup — which has been entirely redesigned in the past few years — to the new owners for a specified time. This was the original scenario in GM’s restructuring plan.
Saturn has an average of 144 days of inventory on lots, so sales of new cars could last until the end of the calendar year, if production ends this summer.
Hummer’s dealer network is smaller than Saturn’s, but it also has newer facilities, which might be attractive to a buyer. Unlike Saturn, there is no specified end date for Hummer production, so there could be a 2010 model year. This nugget of information was pointed out by Hummer spokesman Nick Richards.
When GM bought Hummer from AM General in 1999, it continued to contract the H2’s manufacturing to that company. Later it introduced a smaller H3 model, which is built alongside the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon in Shreveport, La. A sale of Hummer could continue such contract manufacturing for the new owner. Unlike Saturn, a buyer of Hummer would assuredly keep the Hummer name in place and want the current vehicles built for the foreseeable future.
Hummer has 152 days of inventory giving a new owner almost five months to determine what to do with future production.
As with Pontiac, the sale of Saturn and Hummer will likely hurt resale values of both brands, which are already quite low. We list all the current models and their resale value after two years below.
2009 Saturn models
2009 Hummer models
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David