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Penske to Buy Saturn, Later Regret It

Posted in auto industry, Car Branding, Cars, Detroit, GM, Newsworthy, Saturn by Alex Kierstein | June 5th, 2009 | Leave a Reply |
<i>Image: egmcartech.com</i>

Image: egmcartech.com

Roger Penske, owner of Penske Racing and the Penske Automotive Group of dealerships, has been announced as the confirmed buyer of Saturn. GM’s press release doesn’t include much of the gory details, but the press release does confirm that Penske-Saturn will contract with GM to continue producing the Aura, Vue, and Outlook models until Penske hooks up some new suppliers (rumored to be a foreign automaker, possibly Renault or a Chinese company). This provides some stability for Saturn’s employees at their respective GM plants, but the future is still far from certain for Saturn as a brand. Let’s just hope Penske chooses to make this work, because remember how bad the buyer’s remorse was when you bought a HD-DVD player a while back? Imagine if you’d bought an entire automaker. Yeesh.

Press release after the jump.

GM Press Release
General Motors, Penske outline proposed deal for purchase of Saturn

Transaction would save more than 13,000 jobs; preserves renowned brand and retail network

Detroit — General Motors Corp. and Penske Automotive Group today confirmed details of a proposed transaction under which Penske would acquire the Saturn brand. If completed, the deal would save more than 350 dealerships and 13,000 jobs at Saturn and its retailers in the United States, and would preserve the customer-focused Saturn brand.

The proposed transaction is part of GM’s rebuilding efforts outlined in the viability plan that was submitted to the U.S. government earlier this year. Under the terms in the memorandum of understanding, Penske would obtain the rights to the brand as well as certain other Saturn assets. GM would continue production, on a contract basis, of the Saturn Aura, Vue and Outlook.

“This is the combination of two iconic teams: Saturn and Penske,” said Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak. “GM had the vision to create Saturn and has the desire to see it succeed in the future.”

“Saturn has a passionate customer base and outstanding dealer network,” said Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Automotive Group. “For nearly 20 years Saturn has focused on treating the customer right. We share that philosophy, and we want to build on those strengths.”

Saturn began selling cars in 1990 and has sold more than 4 million vehicles. More than 80 percent of those vehicles are still in operation, according to data from R.L. Polk. Saturn has regularly scored among the industry leaders for non-luxury brands in customer satisfaction surveys.

“There has been a groundswell of support for Saturn, with our retailers and owners urging us to save the brand,” said Lajdziak. “We heard their call loud and clear, and it inspired us as we worked to secure Saturn’s future.”

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Financial terms of the agreement will not be disclosed at this time.

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