MOUNT VERNON — The recent announcement by General Motors that it would discontinue its popular Saturn brand came as something of a surprise and shock to observers. The brand has been around since 1990, when the first models rolled off the assembly line.
In February, GM declared its intent to part with the brand by closing or selling the division, either to investors or to dealers, as part of restructuring plans dependent upon the receipt of a second round of government loans. A sale to Penske fell through, and it appears the brand is not going to weather the storm.
Local auto parts manufacturers will not be noticeably affected by the death of the Saturn.
“We don’t make any of those parts here anymore,” said Jack Smith, vice president of sales at AMG.
Annette Vickers of TRW confirmed that no Saturn parts were made at that local plant, either.
Saturn owners should not despair about keeping their cars running in the future. Typically, manufacturers will keep a supply of parts for a discontinued models on hand to supply a perceived need for a certain number of years. The outlook is even better for aftermarket parts.
“I don’t think it should be affected at all,” said Jenny Hughes of O’Reilly’s Auto Parts. “Parts should be available for quite a number of years. I mean, some parts are hard to get anyway, but for Saturn that should not be a big problem. We have not heard anything about any after-market manufacturers quitting production on those parts. For the dealer, parts may not be available, but as far as aftermarket parts, there’s a lot of stuff I can get that the dealer can’t.”
This, he said, is typical for the auto industry, with most parts being available for many years after production ceases on a model. However, some parts, usually major parts such as engine blocks, have a short availability.
“We can get some parts,” said Jay Athey, commercial parts specialist for Advance Auto Parts in Mount Vernon. “We can usually order something if you let us know what you need. There’s a lot of common parts that I feel Saturn hasn’t released to the after-market manufacturers. But we can get normal parts like those we stock for other vehicles — fuel pumps sometimes. It used to be we couldn’t get injectors for the older models. But we can get them finally from after-market.”
Gerald Wicker of NAPA in Mount Vernon confirmed what the other after-market outlets said.
“It just depends on what you want,” he said.