Ask the Best and Brightest: International House Of Penske Lineup?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Roger Penske has got to be a busy guy these days. His purchase of Saturn is a characteristically audacious move that is simultaneously compelling and terrifying. Penske’s Saturn dealers will sell current GM products until they reach the end of their lifetimes. “Concurrent with that, we’ll go around the world to see what products could be brought into this country,” Penske tells Edmunds Inside Line. The “World Market” approach seems to do away with much of the industry’s basic understanding of branding, but Penske insists that aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, safety and styling will continue to be the defining characteristics for new Saturn products.

“We’ll be focused and targeted on models that serve the existing Saturn customer base and in the price ranges that already have surfaced with the existing owner base,” says the Midas of motorsport. Performance vehicles, it seems, are off the radar. “We need to be focused on the core volume before we become a specialty house. We need to generate volume,” says Penske. And though Renault/Samsung products are tipped as likely initial candidates for the International House Of Penske, let’s not assume any foregone conclusions for the sake of this exercise. Just give us your lineup of international vehicles (must be from brands with no US presence) for the new Saturn. Check out the gallery below for a few random suggestions.

Edward Niedermeyer
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  • MadHungarian MadHungarian on Jun 10, 2009

    There actually is a model for this kind of branding that has worked very well for decades. It's called Kenmore and Craftsman. Don't laugh. Obviously, Sears doesn't make washers, refrigerators, vacuums, lawn mowers and so on. They select menufacturers to source the product from, and often make some modifications to the appearance or controls, or add or subtract a feature or two, besides just swapping nameplates. And for all of Sears' overall ups and downs, they have done a damn good job of maintaining the Kenmore and Craftsman brand equity. This could be very interesting to see play out, as Penske/Saturn could give us access to many cars whose manufacturers would not be able or willing to make the investment to set up a North American dealer network. Of course, Penske will need to be able to provide the parts and warranty support. The first time a customer in Montana has to park his Dacia truck for a month waiting for some part to arrive from Bucharest, it's game over. I am also curious if Penske's long term plans include some manufacturing. What if he bought a plant -- plenty of 'em around -- and used it to bring back some of the cars that are most sorely missed? For example, buy the tooling for, oh, say, a Roadmaster wagon, update it a bit, and buy the engines and transmissions from GM (umm, excuse me, Governmentski Motors, or VEB Automobilwerk GM, or whatever it will be called now).

  • Menno Menno on Jun 11, 2009

    I sat down last evening with this in mind, so bear with me. Object one: be realistic (in other words, choose cars which can be sold in the US in a realistic timeframe considering how long it really will take to "federalize" them). Object two: make the car line up something which would appeal to the current Saturn buyer (obviously, don't alienate the people still willing to shop the brand) Object three: plan ahead with the realization that better MPG is demanded of future cars, whether by government fiat (sorry for the pun) or from market forces, it's going to happen; likewise, electric cars I even chose "names" which I thought sounded pretty cool. Feel free to choose your own names. Potential Saturn 2010 cars as of Oct. 2009 (and contract mfr.) Valor (New) sedan (Suzuki SX4, FWD), 2.0/4 (J) Aura sedan (new GM), 2.4/4, 3.6/V6 (US) Vue SUV (new GM), 2.4/4, 3.5/V6 (Mex) Outlook SUV (new GM), 3.6/V6 (US) Potential Saturn 2010 cars as of spring 2010 (and contract mfr.) Valor sedan (Suzuki SX4), 2.0/4 (J) Villa (New) sedan (Mitsubishi Galant), 2.4/4, 3.8/V6 (US) (in other words, replace the Aura as soon as GM refuses to build them) Vue SUV (new GM), 2.4/4, 3.5/V6 (M) Victor (New) SUV (Suzuki XL-7 based) 3.6/V6 (Canada) Potential Saturn 2011 cars (and contract mfr) Via (New) hatch (Dacia/Renault Sandro), 1.6 (BR) Valor sedan (Suzuki SX$), 2.04 (J) Vulcan (New) sedan (Renault-Samsung SM5), 2.0 (ROK) Villa sedan (Mitsubishi Galant), 3,8/V6 (US) Vista (New) SUV (Renault-Samsung QM5), 2.0/4 (ROK) Victor SUV (Suzuki XL-7 based), 3.6/V6 (Can) EV-2 (New) sedan (Renault), electric (F) Potential Saturn 2012 cars (and contract mfr) *possibly assembled in the US from kits? Via hatch (Dacia/Renault Sandro), 1.6 (BR) Valor (NEW) sedan (Renault-Samsung SM3)1.6/4 (ROK) Vulcan sedan (Renault-Samsung SM5) 2.0/4 (ROK)* Vista SUV (Renault-Samsung QM5) 2.0/4 (ROK)* Vanguard (new) sedan (Renault-Samsung SM7) 3.5/V6 (ROK) EV-2 sedan (Renault) Electric (Mexico?) Obviously, a tie-in on the main D-class (Camcord) sized Vulcan line would be to get with Paramount and hire in the new young Spock to do ads.... Don't forget that Dacia, Renault and Nissan are all tied together; that already certified Nissan engines could be used in any vehicles in which they would fit and could be engineered to go into; that Renault-Samsung are thought to be the top quality manufacturer by the South Koreans, apparently; and that there is a free-trade auto pact between South Korea and the US (or at least there was meant to be one). Also don't forget that Renault is preeminent in electric car development, crash safety and have come a long long way since the days of the "Renault Appliance" sold by AMC dealers. Wonder if any old AMC executives, seeing Renault's success in the rest of the world, are sorry they sold out to Crapster in 1987?

  • Bd2 If they let me and the boyz roll around naked in their dealership I'll buy a Chinese car.
  • THX1136 I would not 'knowingly' purchase a Chinese built or brand. I am somewhat skeptical of actual build quality. What I've seen in other Chinese made products show them to be of low quality/poor longevity. They are quite good at 'copying' a design/product, but often they appear to take shortcuts by using less reliable materials and/or parts. And , yes, I know that is not exclusive to Chinese products. When I was younger 'made in Japan' was synonymous with poor quality (check John Entwistle's tune 'Made in Japan' out for a smile). This is not true today as much of Japan's output is considered very favorably and, in some product types, to be of superior quality. I tend to equate the same notion today for things 'made in China'.
  • Mike Beranek No, but I'm for a world where everyone, everywhere buys cars (and everything else) that are sourced and assembled regionally. Shipping big heavy things all over the planet is not a solution.
  • Jeffrey No not for me at this time
  • El scotto Hmm, my VPN and security options have 12-month subscriptions. Car dealers are not accountable to anyone except the owner. Of course, the dealer principles are running around going "state of the art security!", "We need dedicated IT people!" For the next 12 months. The hackers can wait.