With Saturn Gone, GM Loses a Quarter of its Hybrid Sales

SaturnVueGreenLine Saturn accounts for a quarter of GM’s hybrid sales, so when that brand goes away later this year, there go all those fuel-efficient vehicles the Obama administration wants to promote.

Vehicles like the Saturn Vue Hybrid and Aura Hybrid will be no more, and because Saturn sells the second most hybrids for GM (behind Chevrolet), they'll have to be replaced with other fuel-efficient vehicles in order for GM to meet increased CAFE standards. In 2008, Saturn accounted for 3,205 of GM's 11,454 hybrid vehicle sales, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The hit to GM’s CAFE average will be partially mitigated by the shuttering of Hummer and Pontiac, but sources told Automotive News that Saturn’s hybrid technology will still likely need to be used in cars from the remaining brands. That's because hybrid versions of the Chevy Malibu and Silverado and the GMC Sierra Hybrid probably won’t cut it when it comes to CAFE, and the much-hyped Chevy Volt will make up only a negligible portion of the market when it’s released.

This likely means the introduction of new fuel-efficient models down the line, but how soon that happens will depend on how well GM can get its house in order.

When Saturn Goes, So Does a Quarter of GM’s Hybrid Sales (Automotive News)

Comments 

Original sheth

The premise of this article is ridiculous. CAFE is based on sales volumes. The best seller for Pontiac is the G6 and that came with a four cylinder standard. The only model that POntiac makes that gets mediocre mileage is the G8 which hasnt sold well. The Vibe, G5, G6 and Solstice are powered by four cylinder and V6 engines. Killing Pontiac isnt going to help GM's CAFE rating because Pontiac didnt sell pickups or large SUVs.

As for the hybrids, GM sold so few they barely made a dent in the CAFE score for the company. To suggest the the future of fuel efficient product is in question without Saturn is stupid. The Cruze, Spark and Orlando are CHEVY vehicles.

Al

OS: I agree. GM so far, hasn't sold enough of their hybrid's to make a dent in the CAFE score for the company.
As for the Cruze and Spark from what I read will offer good fuel economy with the Cruze offering a turbo 1.4L 4 cylinder. These vehicles look good and show promise.

Ziggy

I have also read that the Vue and Vue Hybrid will live on as a Buick and since the Vibe is dead GM will be working with Toyota on a small vehicle.

Belly

There is nothing wrong with the premise of the article. CAFE ratings are treated differently for hybrids, so by saying it is just based on sales volumes isn't the whole story. Here is a portion of what the NHTSA has to say about hybrids and CAFE:

How are alternative fuel vehicles treated under CAFE?

The CAFE law provides for special treatment of vehicle fuel economy calculations for dedicated alternative fuel vehicles and dual-fuel vehicles. The fuel economy of a dedicated alternative fuel vehicle is determined by dividing its fuel economy in equivalent miles per gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel by 0.15. Thus a 15 mpg dedicated alternative fuel vehicle would be rated as 100 mpg. For dual-fuel vehicles (vehicles that can use the alternative fuel and gasoline or diesel interchangeably), the rating is the average of the fuel economy on gasoline or diesel and the fuel economy on the alternative fuel vehicle divided by .15. For example, this calculation procedure turns a dual fuel vehicle that averages 25 mpg on gasoline or diesel with the above 100 mpg alternative fuel to attain the 40 mpg value for CAFE purposes. Several limitations are established for CAFE credits for dual fuel vehicles. For MYs 1993-2004, the maximum CAFE increase attributable to dual fueled vehicles in a manufacturer’s passenger car or light truck fleet is 1.2 mpg.

The Alternative Motor Fuels Act (AMFA) directed the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the EPA Administrator and the Secretary of Energy, to conduct a study and submit a report to Congress evaluating the success of the policy decision to offer CAFE credit calculation incentives for dual-fuel and gaseous dual-fuel vehicles. The report was transmitted to Congress in March 2002.

The statutory language also requires that the Department of Transportation either extend the incentive program for dual-fuel vehicles beyond MY 2004 for up to four more years with a maximum allowable increase in average fuel economy for a manufacturer of 0.9 miles per gallon; or issue a Federal Register notice that justifies termination of the incentive program. In March 2002, NHTSA issued an NPRM proposing to extend the availability of the CAFE credit incentive for dual-fueled vehicles for four years, through the end of the 2008 model year. A final rule will be issued in 2003.

JM

its a shame that the Vue Two-Mode Hybrid is going to be wasted, but then again it can easily be adapted to the Terrain or Equinox. In fact, these hybrid systems may be a way for GM to differentiate the Terrain and the Equinox. The Equinox should carry the mild hybrid system, since it is a higher volume seller because of its price and chances are the Equinox will be the better selling vehicle of the two. The Two Mode system with the V6 engine (or even a four cylinder like GM should develop) should go into the Terrain, which will be the more expensive version anyway.

MileageMinder

Belly - the above information pertains to alternative fuel vehicles only (typically ethonal) not hybrid vehicles which use regular old gasoline...

Belly

MileageMinder, I had questioned that originally, but if you look around almost all websites address alternative fuels as including hybrids. Once the NHTSA finishes whatever website maintenance they are performing I will check again.

But here is another cite from the Union of Concerned Scientists about how CAFE will not be calculated just based on the average of fleet sales:

Although CAFE standards for cars and trucks had been mostly flat for the past twenty years, that changed with the passage of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The bill revised the structure of the fuel economy standards in several important ways, and increased the combined fleet fuel economy to 35 mpg by 2020, for all cars and trucks. The new standards will be attribute-based, meaning each manufacturer will have to make improvements based on the type of vehicles it sells, not the average of the entire fleet. While this offers manufacturers greater flexibility, it requires careful implementation and monitoring to insure that actual fuel economy is increasing as required by law.

Here's a link, for those who want one... (you know who you are)
http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/solutions/cleaner_cars_pickups_and_suvs/fuel-economy-basics.html

ERNIE MANCUSO

GM SHOULD GO IN THE TANK. THEY LOST THEIR IDENTITY WHEN THEY MADE ALL MODELS ALIKE AND SOLD US JUNK

Max Reid

Aura and Malibu share the same features, so Hybrid system from Aura can be moved to Malibu.

Vue is uniq, so it can be moved to Chevy make along with Hybrid version.

Hybrids will sell better under Chevy brand.

Original sheth

Belly:

What does your cut and past have to do with hybrids? Hybrid mileage is accounted for just as the mileage of regular cars is accounted for. In any event, GM didnt sell many hybrids so there was minimal impact on CAFE. It is true that automakers get extra credit for E85 vehicles which is one reason why GM has so many.

Das

Good. Less leaking batteries to contend with.

DBX

Oh Noez! Clones of other marques will disappear!

Seriously, I don't see how this has a serious impact.

What I'm much more worried about is Saturn's dealer network. These are the people GM wants to have representing the company; they're almost universally good, in contrast to the monsters that often sell Chevrolet, or, more accurately, stiff-arm customers into taking Chevrolets off the lot and then abuse them if they ever return for service. If GM feels it's in their best interest to lose Saturn, they should be doing whatever they can to keep these dealers, as Chevy or Buick dealers, and get rid of some of the numbskulls that "sell" Chevy.

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