Saturn Corporation started as a General Motors project in 1982. The then management decided to create compact cars that could compete with those Japanese makes in terms of quality, design, and cost. It was said to be an ambitious project for having everything new upon startup, including the plant, the dealer network, the workforce, and the process. Although its production ended in 2006, Saturn became
a different kind of car company that succeeded in the industry in its own respects.
The Z-body platform
This automobile platform that was developed in-house at Saturn used a spaceframe design made from dent-resistant polymer panels. This body platform allowed Saturn to alter the look of the models as often as needed. This design soon became Saturn's major selling point, as the vehicles used plastic pieces instead of metal for the cars' side panels. Also, the Z-body platform has a front-wheel-drive configuration, unlike the Y-body that operates on rear-wheel drive used in Chevrolet Corvairs.
The I4 engine
This was a unique engine type shared only by the models belonging to the S-Series. It has a straight 4-aluminum piston engine that underwent a foam-casting process to mold the engine block and cylinder head. This single-overhead camshaft engine used a water-cooled block made from aluminum alloy and liners made from ductile iron. It utilized eight valves for each cylinder head, which houses the camshaft in the center. This SOHC engine was rated at 85-horpower, while the DOHC engine was rated at 124-horsepower.
Red Line and Green Line
Saturn introduced the Red Line and Green Line vehicles to distinguish cars according to performance and environmental friendliness. The Red Line vehicles include the Saturn Vue, the Saturn Ion, the Aura, and the Sky. The Green Line, on the contrary, includes mild hybrids like the 2007 to 2009 models of the Vue and Aura. These hybrid models have a Belted Alternator Starter that uses an electric motor to add power to an engine's crankshaft through a serpentine belt.