Re: Acadia vs Outlook Sales
Well I have to say that the comments that I am reading are pretty fair to say the least. It is a known fact that the best way to lose a sale is to rag on the competition. Let't just say that my methods and ways of selling vehicles are of a more professional manner and to be honest with you I have nothing against the Acadia. It is an awsome vehicle as is the Enclave. It is personal opinion in the end.
Please accept my apologies on behalf of my other Saturn collegues. Saturn still wins awards for customer service year after year so your experience is a rare one. I kind of look at it this way. I have my bad days too but I have quite a few good ones. Some Saturn folk kind of hate the fact we no longer have polymer panels or completely different products. Many hate the fact that Saturn's now have the GM emblem on the side of the vehicle. I don't. Many Saturn folks are just not used to selling a vehicle so similar as is the Acadia and do not know how to deal with it. The Relay was a disaster. I liked the vehicle but GM kind of threw us in the deep end with that one. The Aura will have the 2008 Malibu to deal with. Some Saturn people will pack up and leave. They should. Their time has come and gone. It is a new market out there. You have met some of these people. The consolidation of the Saturn brand within GM isn't complete, yet. You will probably see GM card earnings on Saturns some day soon. They already occur in Canada for example. As well as GM employee and supplier discounts.
I would have to disagree that GMC is anything special within the GM family. They have the Acadia because Chevrolet has the Avalanche. You may not have known this but this is why Chevrolet doesn't have a Lamda vehicle at this time. At least according to some of the GM people in the local head office here but some of you may know better. Well what other brand is the Avalanche shared with? Cadillac. What other vehicle does Chevrolet share with Cadillac? Corvette and XTS. Sure the Escalade to the Denali but I do not see too many Denalis compared to Escalades. I would put GMC and Buick together as far as prestige goes. Historical greatness due to age and knowledge of the brand but not much else. Past glory in other words. I know of many Chevrolet truck owners who would disagree with you on prestige- truck wise. Look at how many more trucks Chevrolet sells compared to GMC. Its an Acadia to Outlook type problem. If Pontiac and Buick were to disappear GMC could easily go with them and nobody may notice the loss of those products. Cadillac had Lasalle at one time and could do something similar again and Chevrolet has it wide overlapping portfolio of product. Saturn will have its product that is different from the other brands. What new product is coming on the horizon for GMC? You mentioned a Denali version. And the Denali brand isn't something I would make long term plans over if I was needing the extra income of a Hit. I can go to a Chevrolet store and pick up most of what GMC offers except the Acadia and Denali versions. In a couple of years Chevrolet will have its Lambda built out of the old Saturn factory in Spring Hill.
Within Saturn we have several vehicles that are similar to our GM brand family members but most people consider the Saturn versions the more classy of the bunch. Sky to Solstice, Aura to 2008 Malibu, Outlook to Acadia, 2008 VUE to Equinox/Torrent. And we will have a few vehicles in the future nobody has such as the Astra and other future vehicles. Maybe the first (this century) diesel GM cars for example.
You may not be aware of this but Saturn has been repositioned within GM. Above Chevrolet and Pontiac. Saturn has had such a strong and loyal customer base and by far the greatest ability to gain new customers from non GM competitors that we have been given the role of being the North American arm of Opel. An import brand if you will. As such all of our products will be sold as European inspired or directly European. The Astra will be imported at least for the first year or two from Antwerpe Belgium, the VUE is an exact copy of the Opel Antara including the interior. The Aura is styled after the Opel Vectra (the next version in two years or less will be exactly the same I am told), the Sky is sold in Europe as the Opel GT and was base off of the Vauxhall Lightning concept car. The Outlook of course is not sold in Europe but its design is that of a German vehicle so that it fits within the Opel/Saturn family. We are expecting other vehicles to follow- maybe the Corsa, Signum, and others. The possibilities are many.
How does this affect things for the future for Saturn's perception within North America? Well let's just say that if all I was to look forward to was an Acadia Denali I do not think people would be seeing me as a changing or improving brand. Saturn may have a Redline version but who knows, it is not that important to prestige. Denali to many is a poor man's Cadillac and Cadillac's have some of the worst resale values that exist. Look at Toyota and Honda with all its new models and choices. It is like a war path they are on. I am sure we will all agree that the quality of the products GM is now bringing out are outstanding. The reputation of GM will not hinge on any one product or any one brand but I think you can see what GM is doing with Saturn. Pontiac, GMC, and Buick have not made any particular inroads in recent years for sales or are perceived to be too progressive at this time. Chevrolet with the Volt and Camaro and Pontiac with the G8 are good steps forward. However Saturn has the biggest job on its hands which is take on Toyota and Honda head on as in diversity as well as reputation. Just look at the recent promotion with the Honda and Toyota Test Drive. We will either succeed or fail. I am betting on the former. It will take time though. We are seeing the results already.
I guess my point is that Saturn has a different job to do than GMC. I personally believe that with the product we have with its diversity, quality and so far great acceptance something is going right. If the GMC Acadia didn't exist the Outlook sales would be how much greater? I think many multiples more simply because we still are less expensive than the Pilots and Highlanders out there and I think a superior product and value. Compared to the incentives and old fashioned "I'll buy it if you can get me a better deal" GMC way of doing things the Outlook has a hard time competing but only really because of the Acadia. However we do sell them and at our store and as many as we can get. I have dealt with the same problem with the Relay. I sold many and low and behold the Relays in my market have better resale values because people are willing to pay more for them. Don't ask me why but they do. Maybe it is because there are so many used Chevrolets and Pontiacs available but that can't be all to it. People aren't that naive.
We will see what happens but it is kind of exciting to see Saturn competing against GMC. I have had the pleasant opportunity to meet people that would have never come to our store. Their other choice would have been the Acadia. Well they are driving the Outlook today because they liked it better. GMC may be shooting themselves in the foot by taking a fantastic product like the Acadia, overpricing it, then incentivizing it (if that is a word), discounting it and selling it the way an crappy product needs to sell. If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck it probably is a duck. Kind of a shame really. Perception is everything. You know it because one bad Saturn store made some of you think that THAT is Saturn.
There is a good chance that if it were possible for you to have been at my store and had me as your salesperson you would be a Saturn Owner. I do it every day.
Thanks for the opportunity to say my peace.