The midsize sedan General Motors Corp. had hoped would be a hit with Saturn lovers is instead on the automaker's hit list, according to the Detroit Free Press
GM will kill off the slow-selling Saturn L-300 sedan and wagon in the summer of 2005, say
suppliers, auto insiders and GM officials, the Free Press
reported. The plan is to replace it later in 2005 with a four-door hatchback that some insiders call the
Saturn Sportsback, according to the paper.
The Free Press
reported the hatchback would be built on the same structure as the new
Chevrolet Malibu and the Saab 9-3.
The Saturn L-300, called L-Series when it debuted in 1999, was GM's long-awaited attempt to create a midsize car that satisfied buyers of the original, compact Saturn would want to move to. Instead they just moved on, say auto-sales experts, according to the Free Press
Sales have driven into a ditch the last two months, the Free Press
said. They fell 37 percent in September and 40 percent in October, compared with the same months in
2002. This is despite Saturn making over the front grille and rear and adding a brushed-nickel trim and silver gauges inside, according to the Free Press
"You go into a Saturn dealership and you can just see the L-Series isn't doing well," said Mike Wall, analyst for the forecasting firm CSM Worldwide. "Coming out, Saturn hoped people would want to graduate to the L-Series from the
small Saturn, but they go on instead to a Toyota Camry."
Wall said GM has about a 116-day supply of unsold L-300 sedans and wagons, well above
the 60-day supply automakers prefer. That number remained high despite a supplier strike that halted L-300 production for three weeks in late October, according to the Free Press