Walter S. McManus, the head of the Automotive Analysis Division of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, says he could see it coming.
"Brand loyalty is overrated," McManus stated flatly. "It is costly to do all the fuzzies, and Saturn's example is clear that it doesn't pay off for what is essentially an economy-car company. Women especially appreciated the Saturn way, but Honda sells more cars to women, despite having a less female-friendly approach."
Jeepers. What a pin-headed bit of logic. Honda isn't particularly 'female friendly' (any more than other car makes, really), but they've earned that market by producing cars that work. For a long time.
No, Honda's cars aren't the most exciting out there - but they work, they are well made and they've had a solid reputation for decades. Yes, the early models were - well - crude. But once they hit the mid-80s, the company hit its stride - especially with the Accords.
I can't count the number of people I work with whose first car was a Honda Civic, or they bought one for their daughter's first car (often with the thought that it was a reliable car that wouldn't strand their daughter somewhere in the dead of night).
Myself, I'm on my second Honda; my father is on his second (in fifteen years!) - brand loyalty isn't worth much? Horsefeathers. Chances are that I'll give whatever Honda has on the floor in another few years a serious look when I go to replace my current car. Why? Because the cars have treated me well, the service department at the dealership has been fair to me, and Honda has stood behind their product. Loyalty is earned.
Saturn set out on the right track in the late 80s - it was a lack of vision and persistence on GM's part that undermined the first initiative that company had which was going in the right direction. Those that I know that have owned Saturns have spoken well of their experiences with the dealers (in the early years), even if the car itself was "average" quality.