Lincoln Stax wrote:
[rant]It seems so ironic that Isuzu started out in the US rebadging their truck as a Chevy, and by the end was selling Chevy trucks rebadged as Isuzus. Why did GM bother spending billions on creating Saturn as their "import-beater" when they already has Isuzu? If people want to buy imports, why not let them buy the import you own? And people wonder why GM went bankrupt.[/rant]
The Chevrolet Colorado was designed by Isuzu. It is the D-Max, quite popular in Indonesia and Thailand (both are growth markets). Isuzu licensed the design to GM and GM was essentially a subcontractor for production of the I-280 and I-350 pickup trucks. Import tariffs on pickups and economic climate make it too expensive to import a foreign made pickup into the US.
Saturn was an ill fated attempt to pacify the labor unions. GM (nor any other American company) has ever been able to make a decent quality inexpensive car. Labor costs are set by union contract and can not be reduced. The only option is to reduce design quality, as they have done so often. Math and business do not care about patriotism. The alternative is to buy cars from Japan and stick American badges onto them. But the workers at Toyota, Suzuki, and Isuzu do not pay dues to the UAW. Saturn was an attempt to replace Isuzu, plagiarizing Isuzu design. The original SL1 and SC1 prototypes were road tested on Isuzu transmissions because the US copies were not done yet. Saturn transmissions share a unique axle spline pattern with the Isuzu transmissions, that is found in no other transmission. Even with GM's attempt to assemble their own economy car, they subcontracted the component manufacturing to Japanese companies, but lowered the specifications to the point of component failure. Transmissions built in Japan with gears made of pressed metal. Set pins that were not tight enough, fell out, allowing differential cross pins to back out and cut through the transmission housings from the inside out. All of these were always blamed on the Japanese subcontractor.
Soon, all of the revolutionary features of the Saturns, like dent proof plastic body panels, were gone, and they were nothing more than rebadged Chevys and Pontiacs. And shortly after that, they were rebadged Opels, Vauxhals, etc.
As for bankruptcy, the healthy car manufacturers are not selling cars in the US. Isuzu withdrew. Fiat withdrew two or more decades ago, and just bought Chrysler. No one was foolish enough to by GM. See how well Fiat fares once they are again in the US market. The US buyer wants patriotic (domestically built) cars at Walmart prices. That isn't possible, Walmart priced cars could only come from the same place everything else at Walmart comes from, China, and that can;t be spun into any sort of patriotic theme.