“A Different Kind of Car” Now Just a Dead GM Brand
It appeared that General Motors was going to find a way to make a deal with Penske Automotive Group. It appeared that Saturn, which used to market itself as “a different kind of company” with more of a grassroots American appeal, was going to find a way to remain on the road. Unfortunately, the GM-Penske deal fell apart. Saturn is closing.
A shock to employees and customers
The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that the entire Saturn division of GM will be shut down by 2010. Only three models will continue into 2011, but after that Penske would have to have a buyer to keep it rolling. There are 350 dealerships nationwide, not to mention many thousands of Saturn owners who wonder what’s going to happen next.
Suburban Detroit Saturn dealership owner Carl Galeana said what’s likely on the minds of other Saturn dealers: “I find this hard to believe. Everyone’s been saying we’re right at the goal line.”
Breakdown in the Red Zone
Months ago, a deal with Penske seemed imminent. There was even a tentative deal on the table. Dealerships were optimistic, as were Saturn executives. However, a suitable purchase deal appears tremendously unlikely. While it is certain at this time that Saturn dealerships will be slated to close, the company has said that employee layoffs aren’t planned at this time. If one doesn’t follow the other, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. I certainly don’t want to see 13,000 Saturn employees put out of work, but the auto industry isn’t bulging with cash right now. I wish them a soft landing.
Pontiac… Saab… Hummer… Saturn
These are all GM brands that will either be shut down or sold off. Saturn was intended to compete against Japanese imports back in 1990, but now manufacturers don’t want to touch them. That’s apparently what killed the Penske deal, as an unidentified manufacturer involved in the deal said they wouldn’t make new Saturn cars. Thus, Penske left the negotiating table for good, leaving GM holding the bill.
A Deal Was Coming This Week
Despite the quick departure from the table by Penske, the sale terms were nearly wrapped up. Saturn customers whose vehicles are still under warranty can receive service at GM dealerships after the Saturn closing, but what will the 13,000 employees do? Here’s hoping there’s some last minute magic waiting for them.