Tesla bears a lot of similarities to Saturn, the now defunct independent GM brand that build massive loyalty in the 1990s only to disappear. That’s a comparison Business Insider makes, after revered brand strategist Erich Joachimsthaler said the Chevy Bolt might be “hugely successful” before Tesla really hits and that “by the time the Model 3 comes out, or BMW or Mercedes’ alternatives gain traction, I think that Tesla’s brand would be diminished.” In that case even the “500,000 units [Tesla is] expecting to produce in a few years is a non-event.”
The enthusiasm for Saturn twenty years ago reminds industry watchers of the current Tesla mania. For comparison BI considers some findings from a Forbes post-mortem on Saturn, which reveals that Saturn was the third best-selling car model in the U.S. in 1994 and “nearly 100,000 owners attended two ‘homecoming’ celebrations in 1994 and 1999.” Things change, as any good business publication (like the two mentioned) are in business to remind us. Saturn suffered at the hands of GM and the UAW, problems Elon Musk‘s Tesla won’t have. But the bar is set very high for Tesla and it has a lot on its plate, including a quarter million pre-orders. Saturn had similarly high ambitions and achieved them, with GM’s net under its tightrope. Musk, of course, hasn’t missed yet. It may not work out exactly according to plan, but whatever happens to Tesla it won’t be a “non-event.” That’s for sure.