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BREAKING: RIP Saturn? Penske Walks Away After Failing to Find Cars

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General Motors will shut down the Saturn brand after Penske Automotive ended negotiations on an agreement to buy the brand and dealer network.

Penske was unable to find any global automakers to supply him with cars. The agreement between GM and Penske had been under negotiation since early June, and was expected to close today or tomorrow.

GM's chief executive officer Fritz Henderson issued a statement of deep regret today, saying:

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.

Penske walked away after being unable to find any automaker who would provide cars to Saturn after a supply agreement with GM for the current Astra compact hatchback, Vue sport-utility, and Aura sedan, and Outlook large crossover expired in two years.

Penske Automotive Group said in a statement that it had an agreement with another manufacturer to supply it with cars, but that company's board of directors ultimately rejected the deal--presumably fearing a savvy U.S. competitor. Some analysts had surmised that company was French carmaker Renault, but Penske did not specify the manufacturer.

This apparently means that Saturn will be shut down expeditiously. From the GM statement:

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.

Current Saturn owners will continue to be able to get parts and service at other GM dealer outlets:

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.

The word "disappointing" may be an understatement on Henderson's part:

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.

As recently as yesterday, widespread reports indicated that the GM-Penske deal would close as early as today.

Early online reaction was simply shock at the evaporation of an all-but-done deal, although one Twitter user was able to derive bleak humor from the situation: The Sky is falling. The deal must've had a bad Aura.  Outlook is grim. There is no positive Vue. Kiss their Astra goodbye.

Shares of the Penske Automotive Group fell 12 percent, or $1.93, to $17.25 in after-hours trading.

[GM, Detroit News, Freep]

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Comments (16)
  1. I didnt even know Saturn still made cars. Guess I won't miss them
     
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  2. so what do I do about my "extended dealer warranty" if the dealer is going away?
     
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  3. Sad day. Obviously reflects a compilation of decades of poor decisions/execution/luck. Just terrible news for the dealer network in particular. Hoping they land on their feet as quickly as possible.
     
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  4. This is extremely bad news! I am on my fourth Saturn. Once I experienced Saturn, and the honest way in which the dealership did business, I never wanted to buy anything else. I'm hoping something can still be done to save Saturn.
     
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  5. No surprise here. It's good. Penske doesn't buy an anvil, and GM gets more competition off the road.
     
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  6. Although I have never owned a Saturn product, I feel strangely sad at the demise of a brand with obviously deep owner loyalty. Probably because in 1965 I learned of the forthcoming end of a brand I had owned twice: Studebaker. There are many opinions on the quality of that brand, but I was served well by my Lark and Daytona. The history of the company was interesting; in a different way, so is that of Saturn. Sorry Roger P. could not secure that "next move" manufacturer! For me, it seems like 1966 all over again!
     
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  7. This is a sad day, I was looking forward to some of the new models being hyped like the Renaults.
     
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  8. I hate to say it, but it's probably a good thing that Saturn is going away. The market just doesn't need as many brands or as much supply anymore, and Saturn didn't bring anything unique to the table. GM could do anything it did with Saturn through Chevy just as easily.
     
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  9. it aint over till its over.. this one is going to have some twists and turnshu
     
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  10. No doubt, these are "interesting" times in the automotive industry - I'm sure there will be similar moves by other manufacturers in the upcoming days.
     
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  11. I think it is a publicity stunt as corny as that sounds. I don't think talks would have advanced this far without coming to fruition. As carguys says, it ain't over 'til it's over. Stay tuned, I guess.
     
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  12. This deal never made sense. Obamanomics at work. More fallout to follow. Idiots!
     
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  13. GM should have known better than to fool with Penske. He is clueless, including putting his eggs into one basket. If he was rejected by PAG, why did he not seek to extend the projected vehicle supply agreement with GM beyond the two year period even for a different mix of GM vehicles. This would not have been unheard of since AM General supplies H2's to GM for Hummer. Penske could have even negotiated with GM and Toyota for the NUMMI plant, which could have continued turning out Toyotas and supplying the Vibe for Saturn instead of closing the plant down. There are no plans to stop making Corollas or its derivatives. Penske could have negotiated with GM to rebadge the Pontiac G8 and continue getting supplied with them as Saturns. Penske could have also linked up with other suppliers such as GM/Daewoo, GM/Opel/Vauxhall, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, or maybe even VW/SEAT. At this point, I hope that the Saturn dealer network finds another partner, such as Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Isuzu, VW, or the Chinese or Arabs to execute a stock based spinoff from GM to continue Saturn operations. Obviously GM does not want the competition (i.e., Fritz is no friend of Saturn).
     
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  14. @Mr D: Penske is "clueless"? Hmmmm.
    Why would GM agree to supply a competitor with vehicles beyond the 2-year agreement? Why would ANY carmaker agree to supply a competitor with cars in the thinnest-margin, most competitive market in the world--and one that's hardly growing compared to China, India, and the other BRIC countries?
    Going through your list of candidates:
    - Mitsubishi: crappy cars & struggling on their own
    - Suzuki: OK cars, struggling on their own
    - Isuzu: Out of the car game in the U.S.
    - VW: Already in the US market, doesn't need a competitor
    - Chinese: No likelihood of being able to make cars good enough to sell in the US in less than 5 years, say all the analysts
    - Arabs: Name me an Arab car company?
    The only logical maker to supply Saturn with cars was either Samsung-Nissan (the one he chose), which Ghosn quashed 'cause it posed competition for Nissan, or PSA (Peugeot-Citroen). Everyone else is already in the US market.
    You are right: Fritz is no friend of Saturn. But why should he go out of his way to help a competitor?
    I fully believe that Ghosn killed the deal because (a) it would have been a competitor; and (b) it may not have been a good use of funds for Samsung versus things like expansion into China.
     
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  15. This breaks my heart! I too am on my fourth Saturn - three of them are still in my drive way. For those of you who own one, you know what we are losing. I've owned a Lincoln Navigator and Honda Civic and I can tell you that I love the Saturns that replaced those cars way more. And they did bring something unique - a better, honest way of doing business! I welcom turns and twists if it will keep them in business. I'm looking forward to buying my next Saturn!
     
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  16. That's funny... "Saturn didn't bring anything to the table"? Wtf do u call an "economical" fuel efficent cheap car then ? Chevy ? Lmao and while wea still on the subject what do you call the "3rd door" (ex. 2001 2002 Saturn Sc1 & Sc2 3 door) (ion quad 4 dr) a new inovation in sports car design rite up until like 5 years ago when mazda rx8's 3dr was introduced they were the only manafacturer so again I ask you do u really believe Saturn didn't bring anything to the table in almost 20 years I only named a few....get at me I could go on forever ! Ill defend a dying breed....Saturn's there for me EVERYDAY w/o failure least I can do is return the favor.....avid saturn supporter since 2003.....y drive a 3000+ lbs. Civic with a 1.7 ltr wen u culd drive a plastic 2300lbs car with a 1.9 ?
     
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