GM's dying brands boosts dealership sales

NORTH HILLS, Calif. After a dismal year, local car dealers are finally seeing a boost in sales.

Saturn dealers were given the death sentence three months ago but in North Hills, news of GM's latest discount created quite a pulse.

"It looks like it's affecting us terrific. I mean, this morning we came in and the phone was ringing off the hook, and the internet is as busy as can be and our show room is full of customers so we're excited about it," said John Bresson, the sales manager at North Hills Saturn.

GM announced that through Jan. 4, it will pay dealers $7, 000 to every new Saturn or Pontiac car that's moved to dealer operated, rental or service fleets. Dealers can then knock $7,000 off the price to consumers, although at that point the cars would technically be considered used. Still, it means some of the cheapest cars bought for almost half the price.

"I've been in the business a long time. I've never seen rebates like this. When you're talking about $6,500 to $7,000 off the price of the vehicle, in many cases you're talking about saving 30 percent or more off the price of a car," Bresson said.

Sales of Saturns plunged 61.5 percent through November and Pontiac sales dropped a little more than 32 percent, so GM is hoping these new discounts will help reduce inventory.

"I think the quality is there for the numbers they're talking. Under $20,000 is a good reason to look here today," said Jeffrey Allen of Granada Hills.

"Once the Saturn is no longer a GM store, if there are warranty issues, General Motors is going to take care of those issues for them. They understand the fact that they're getting a quality vehicle and there's going to be the support and backing they need," said Sgt. Dennis Clark of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

GM will shut down the Saturn and Pontiac brands at the end of 2010, but its own version of an after Christmas discount is helping cost conscience consumers drive off will the last of a dying breed.

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