By on July 30, 2009

Well, possibly more compelling. But first the sale. “I think that we’re past midfield with GM. There are always issues that you have to deal with, but I think we’re progressing well,” Roger Penske tells Automotive News [sub]. The bad news is Saturn’s rebirth isn’t going to be as simple as loading a boat with fun, quirky, never-before-seen-on-these-shores foreign cars and slinging Saturn badges on them. And while the details are being worked out (just how foreign and how quirky are we talking?) Saturn will be doing business as uninspired, uh, usual. “Under the terms of the tentative deal between GM and Penske, the automaker would supply Saturn with Aura sedans, Vue SUVs and Outlook crossover vehicles until at least 2011,” reveals AN. Epsilon, Theta, Lambda, oh my! Saturn hasn’t so much been saved as it’s been frozen in time. And Roger Penske won’t even discuss Saturn’s post-GM future. It looks like Saturn’s dealers are going to have to curb their enthusiasm just a little bit longer.

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14 Comments on “Penske: Saturn Sale Complete By September, Compelling By 2012...”


  • avatar
    jaje

    GM badge engineered vehicles – but now owned by another company. Sad. New owners but can’t even make any significant product changes for 2 years. I’d figure we’ll see Penske sell at a huge loss a year or so from now (and just write it off).

  • avatar
    Seth L

    So it’s like the buick lineup, only less so.

    But don’t forget miles and miles of Skys that will still be on lots in 2012.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    Every think that Penske’s plan is to sell Saturn to Renault/Nissan for their “Third Leg” US manufacturer ?

    Sounds wierd, but we are living in the Twilight Zone….

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    I bet if they rebadged all the crappy Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep C/D cars as Saturns then people might actually buy them.

    It would be a win/win (hehe).

  • avatar
    menno

    Roger’s got some plans up his sleeve. Nothing in the agreement saying he can’t sell other cars ALONGSIDE the GM supplied stuff… is there?

    Although it’d take at least 12 months to US certify pretty much anything out there, that could be somewhat cut if Nissan agreed to supply US spec engines for Samsung-Renault cars (which are Nissan based, at present).

  • avatar
    Flipper

    Epsilon, Theta, Lambda = the new Whiskey, Tango , Foxtrot.

  • avatar
    HalfMast

    This isn’t news, folks. Penske said from the start that Saturn will continue to sell GM products until he gets new suppliers on board. Even then, can anyone name a European brand, not currently marketed in the US (or soon to be i.e. Fiat), with better products competitive to Outlook or VUE? Aura’s not exactly a shining start, but is a reasonable car in an extremely competitive segment. I’d look for Saturn to fill out their line-up on the smaller-sized segments first before replacing these. They may just sell enough to pay the bills until they get some real product in.

    Besides, anyone who’s followed Roger’s business career knows he doesn’t give up easily, and he’s not stupid. This is a strange business model and may not work, but not for lack of effort on Penske’s part.

  • avatar
    spyspeed

    I hope Penske finds a way to take share from Buick/GMC for those two years. It would be a fitting payback for GM badge engineering.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Even if Roger was selling an identical car as GM, he would take share from them; difference being Roger understands, that where all things are (mostly) equal, Customer satisfaction is key to sustainability.

    My dad bought new, a 1972 Chevy Kingswood sta wgn from Roger in late 1971, and this was always remembered in the family as a very pleasing experience. (Next car did not come from Roger, only because my father began getting company cars, and Roger sold his interest in Penske Chevrolet a couple years thereafter.

    BTW, I’m still wondering what Roger’s angle was on taking over the K-Mart auto service centers; was this a rare flop? (I was already living outside the country when this was going on, so I lost track of the topic – if the B&B could illucidate me on that I’d be thankful.)

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Perhaps HE could buy/import the Commodore (G8) to the Saturn brand! And then the Holden Sports Wagon(up against with the Caddy wagon) and even the Statesman/Caprice to really stick it up Cadillac/Buick

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    I was hoping that Mr. Penske would be bringing the OPC Astra here. A diesel option for it would have been stellar as well. So much for hope.

    pacificporn2, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Saturn’s malaise is somewhat mystifying – the brand has a great rep for customer service, and the cars are all good-looking, decently priced, and thoroughly up to date. Problem is, all this good stuff happened right as the economy tanked and GM went belly up.

    To me, this is the most shameful part of the GM bust-out…they really squandered an opportunity with this brand. And it happened because they didn’t make what Saturn needed so desperately – a solid midsize or compact car in time.

    Sad.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    Penske has has a proven track record of turning around the failures of GM. See Detroit Diesel

    Saturn’s malaise is that is was mishandled like most of the GM brands by the Ritalin addled folks RenCen.

    The basis of Saturn was a “different” fighter brand that could beat Toyonda at their own game of compact cars. Between the Z-body, some goofy yet effective advertising and polite dealers that didn’t haggle that had a good run. At one point in the mid 90s they had almost obtained the holy grail of Apple or Harley like levels of brand loyalty.

    However like much in the portfolio of the General the Z body grew long in the tooth. After the flop of the L series and the Ion they attempted to move upmarket and fizzled. Today they are just another sad peddler of cloned platforms.

    Much like Detroit Diesel, Saturn is being bought distressed on the cheap. The dealership network has a proven track record of performance when given proper product with marketing support.

  • avatar
    George B

    Saturn’s malaise is somewhat mystifying…

    Saturn’s no haggle pricing doesn’t allow them to respond to lower prices for the equivalent Chevrolet or other competition. Take it or leave it pricing doesn’t work when the customer chooses “leave it” over “take it”.

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