Just before the current financial crisis cropped up, General Motors sent out invitations to the media to come and drive the new Saturn Vue two mode hybrid. That event was supposed to happen this past week. But, just like GM's LA Auto Show press conference, the Vue drive was canceled to save money.
As General Motors pleaded for its life in Washington DC this week, the survival plan it submitted to Congress gave four of its eight brands a likely death sentence. One of those is Saturn, the brand that started in the mid-eighties as a subsidiary apart from the rest of GM. It was meant to be an incubator for a new way of building and selling cars in the United States. The idea was only partially successful. Customers liked the Saturn retail experience and a lot of lessons about manufacturing spread to the rest of GM. Unfortunately the early Saturns weren't great cars and those introduced in the latter part of the last decade and early part of this one weren't much better. In recent years, a transformation process that essentially made Saturns re-branded Opels created better products but not a lot of sales.
The two-mode Vue would have been the second iteration of GM's strong hybrid system and the first implementation in a smaller vehicle. A plug-in version has also been under development. The question now is will we ever get a chance to see this hybrid system produced in reasonable sized vehicles? If GM gets the help it needs, will it add the two-mode to the similarly-sized Chevy Equinox or the Malibu or any other vehicle?