Jill LajdziakEnlarge Photo
On January 1, 2010, Saturn's former general manager, Jill Lajdziak, joined smart's American team as vice president of marketing and sales. Three days later, she was named the company's president. Clearly, she makes a strong impression.
Smart, like Saturn, has been an under-performer in the U.S., and there's hope that a dynamic, longtime auto industry personality like Lajdziak can turn things around. The two brands are wildly dissimilar in their product offerings -- Saturn boasting a diverse line-up of vehicles and smart featuring just a handful of variations on the fortwo -- but each marque has strong niche appeal. Here's hoping that Lajdziak can bring some of Saturn's fabled customer loyalty to smart before it...well, before it goes the way of Saturn.
NB: It bears mentioning that smart's U.S. business is overseen by Penske Automotive Group -- the same Penske Automotive Group that was set to purchase Saturn from General Motors until things fell apart. So as fate would have it, Lajdziak has wound up working for Roger Penske anyway.