Teaching Students About General Motor’s Saturn Car
Saturn cars, a storied brand in the American auto industry, offer a wealth of information for young learners interested in automobiles. Understanding the history, features, and significance of Saturn cars will enrich students’ knowledge of both the development of cars and the automotive industry as a whole. This article aims to provide educators with an overview of Saturn cars and suggestions for teaching students about this fascinating brand.
A Brief History of Saturn Cars:
Saturn Corporation was founded in 1985 as a subsidiary of General Motors (GM) to develop innovative manufacturing techniques, improve product quality and compete fiercely in the small-car market. The first Saturn models, the S-Series compact sedans and coupes, were introduced in 1990. Over its lifespan, the brand continued to expand with the introduction of mid-size sedans like the L-Series and SUVs such as the Vue. The company ceased production in 2009 after GM’s financial struggles during the global recession.
Several key features distinguished Saturn from its competitors, making these vehicles suitable teaching case studies:
1. Innovative Manufacturing Techniques – Developing new technologies like dent-resistant plastic body panels and implementing an innovative assembly process streamlined production and reduced costs for Saturn vehicles.
2. Emphasis on Customer Experience – With its “no-haggle” pricing policy, Saturn fostered long-term relationships with their customers by prioritizing straightforward communication and exceptional service.
3. Environmentalism – In 1999, Saturn launched the EV1, one of the earliest electric-powered vehicles available for lease by everyday consumers. Despite its limited range and production numbers, it is an essential part of electric vehicle history.
Classroom Activities for Teaching About Saturn Cars:
To help students explore the world of Saturn cars more deeply, educators can implement various engaging classroom activities:
1. Explore History – Have students research some key historical moments for the brand, creating a timeline to illustrate Saturn’s different models, technologies, and milestones throughout its existence.
2. Assemble a Saturn – Divide students into groups and provide each group with a set of schematics. Students will then work together to “build” their Saturn car from scratch using paper cutouts or digital tools.
3. Marketing Strategy Analysis – Instruct students to examine and evaluate Saturn’s marketing campaigns, discussing the appeals targeted (e.g., innovation, pricing policy) and their impact on the brand’s popularity.
4. Debate: The Future of Electric Vehicles – Organize a debate among students, comparing and contrasting the early electric vehicles like the EV1 to modern electric cars (e.g., Tesla) and discussing whether Saturn paved the way for today’s increasingly popular EV models.
5. Brand Assessment – Encourage students to assess why GM decided to discontinue the Saturn brand in 2009. Assessing factors like competition, production costs, and company decision-making can help develop students’ critical thinking skills in relation to corporate strategies.