Nearly 30 years ago the automotive giant General Motors could see that competition from Japanese carmakers would change the face of the North America new car market. It was clear by the 1980 that GM was doomed to play catch up with Japanese, who had proved to have a more innovative and flexible approach to car building. GM bosses first decided to commission a new small car to take on highly successfully models such as the Honda Civic. After project Saturn was set in motion in 1982. GM decided to sit down with the United Autoworkers Union to re-design and re-think how a domestic manufacture mass produces cars. The project became public in 1983 and in 1984 the Group of 99 was appointed, made up of GM staff from 55different plants and 14 UAW regions. In 1985 the Saturn Corporation became a new GM subsidiary and $3.5 billion was allocated to creating a new car company from scratch. It was decided to build the plant at Spring Hill, Tennesse. Dealerships would concentrate on high levels of customer service and a no haggle fixed pricing policy. The Saturn car used the same unusual construction as the Pontiac Fiero sports car, a steel spaceframe chassis clad in a non structural composite skin panels.
It was powered by an all new light weight, range of 1.9 liter petrol engines. Eventually, there would be three S series models, a small four door saloon, an estate and coupe. The Saturn experiment didn’t take off and planned expansion in 1998 was canned. GM added the bigger Vauxhall/ Opel Vectra based Saturn L Series, but it was a notable flop. However, GM re-invested in the brand in 2000, building an SUV and looked at pitching the brand as uniquely female-friendly.