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Penske Cancels Plan to Buy Saturn

30th September 2009

GM CEO Fritz Henderson issued the following news release this afternoon:

“Today we learned that Penske Automotive Group (PAG) has decided to terminate discussions with General Motors to acquire Saturn. This is very disappointing news and comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality. PAG’s announcement explained that their decision was not based on interactions with GM or Saturn retailers; rather it was because of the inability to source new products beyond what it had asked GM to build on contract.

As a result of PAG’s decision, we will be winding down the Saturn brand and dealership network, in accordance with the wind-down agreements that Saturn dealers recently signed with GM. Pursuant to the terms of those agreements, the wind down process will be determined and communicated shortly.

Saturn customers and owners will continue to be able to purchase and have their vehicles serviced at Saturn retailers during this process. Once the wind down is complete, Saturn owners will still be able to have their vehicles serviced at other GM dealerships. We will be communicating with our customers very soon to explain the next steps in this process.

Today’s disappointing news comes at a time when we’d hoped for a successful launch of the Saturn brand into a new chapter. We will be working closely with our dealers to ensure Saturn customers are cared for as we transition them to other GM dealers in the months ahead. I’d also like to thank every GM employee and Saturn retailer who worked so hard to try to make this new beginning happen for Saturn.”

To say this is a shocking announcement is an understatement.  Roger Penske, who some wanted to take over GM, was considered a white knight for Saturn dealers.  If anybody could have saved their butts as GM discarded them like day-old coffee, it was Penske.  Those dealers deserved so much better than the fate which will now be theirs.  Saturn consistently has ranked as one of the highest brands in dealer satisfaction, despite years of product neglect by the General.  That means they really worked their tails off to make the customers happy.  And what was their reward?  Selling out-of-date, less than adequate product for more than a decade.  Only recently was the lineup overhauled, making it one of the best around.  But it was too little; too late.  The damage was done.  Now there is only the task of shutting off the lights as the last employees of the once-proud dealers go home for the last time.  Like I said about Pontiac recently, RIP Saturn; you will be missed.

That’s what I think – how about you?

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