• May 5, 2009
The typical relationship between automakers and dealerships, of course, is for the dealers to sell the cars that the automaker produces. But with General Motors shedding like a dog in springtime, it's the dealers who have been looking to buy the brands themselves. Following interest expressed by German dealers to acquire Opel and a group of investors including equity firm Black Oak and the brand's own dealers to acquire Saturn, one of the country's biggest dealership groups is stepping up to the plate as a serious contender to take over the no hassle GM division.

Suburban Detroit-based Penske Automotive Group statistically sells the second most amount of new cars in America. It also runs truck leasing, shipping/logistics and, of course, racing operations to great success. But Penske has also got experience shaping the fortunes of automakers, as well, after handling the introduction of Smart cars in North America and the turnaround of Detroit Diesel from a money-losing operation into a profit-generating one. Of course, Penske is just one of many potential buyers for Saturn, but with Roger's business acumen and proven track record, he's one the General can't afford to ignore.

[Source: Wall Street Journal and Automotive News – subs. req'd]


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  • 22 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey if he does buy Saturn, maybe the Sky Redline will step up to the plate even more so. Great car that needs a little bit more work to make it a serious contender.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Or does he want to start his own automaker?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saturn has dealers and a brand name that might make it easier to sell new, Chinese-built cars as part of an all-new car line.

      Still, it's a huge risk because there must be a compelling reason to buy the cars, and that's not easy as there are plenty of choices already.

      At least Penske is credible (and was one year ahead of me at Shaker Heights High School--he was graduated in 1955).

      No, I didn't personally know Penske, but remember seeing him at school. He's certainly come a long way since then........

      • 5 Years Ago
      Just get Penske to RUN GM already!
      • 5 Years Ago
      This would be a very good thing. Have much respect for Roger's no nonsense way of doing business. Since most Saturns are Opels, it would be beneficial to both marques to retain that relationship in the future. At least for the next 5 years or so anyway. This would give Saturn time to create its own models.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wish he gets it and then buy and resale Holden Commodore as Saturn. Don't care at that point what name the car is going to have, G8 or not, just keep the car on the market.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No big deal. Saturn is full of rebadged Opels now, and can continue to be. All the R&D is done, the customer base is loyal and the dealers want to stay in business. Everybody can deal with the status quo except for GM, who's being forced to reorganize under government orders.

      Penske is experienced in turning around GM's problem properties (e.g. Detroit Diesel), has solid success as a dealer and a manufacturer, and will give everybody the confidence to continue until Saturn develops into whatever it will become. This news is great for the future of the brand -- in the near term, even if Penske doesn't eventually end up with it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If Saturn were run well, it would become competition for GM. That could get interesting - it's not like car companies can sign a non-compete...
      • 5 Years Ago
      If Mr. Penske stays true to form he already has a well laid plan for the Saturn aquisition and the product that would be offered. Interesting that he is in a monetary position to take advantage of the opportunity.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why would that be interesting? When was the last time you heard anything Penske operating at a lost????

        His tracks are profitable, his businesses and his racing teams one and all. He doesn't race on HIS dime, he races on OTHERS, that would be the only real lost of money if he did race on his own money, but he hasn't done that since he quit driving himself.

        DHL took away sponsorship of the ALMS LMP1 Porsche team. What did Penske do, he went to Porsche and said "Look, we need to keep the #6 team together if your serious about a LMP1 car in 2010"

        So look where Dumas et-al are now - Grand Am in a Riley-Porsche

        Look for a decision this winter for the Porsche LMP1 car maybe by Petit Le Mans.

        Penske can make Saturn work and why not source cars from Opel. Hell, why not buy BOTH Opel and Saturn, I'm sure Germany would much rather have that than have Fiat keep the plants in Germany open but layoff workers...

      • 5 Years Ago
      Am I the only one who is surprised that saturn might actually succeed in spinning off?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I just expected the whole attempt at spinning off to be a last desperate attempt at staying alive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      But where will he source the cars from. Will GM continue to supply cars to Saturn, or will he have to source them elsewhere?
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's the whole thing about selling a brand. What are you selling? The name? The technology, the plants, what? It's like the recent ramblings on Pontiac... meaningless unless you know what's being sold. At least Saturn is distinct enough from regular GM to make it something worth selling.

        In the case of Pontiac, how can you sell it when most everything they do is shared with other lines that will stay within GM?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The whole idea is to sell product built by other manufacturers and badge them as Saturns. It would be a great way to save the brand, have less headaches dealing with unions and save many needed jobs. Saturns success was its process in how they sell cars, not the cars themselves. Although everyone is building a better car, Saturn developed a sales process that works. Now GM has scared consumers and they are suffering and someone needs to take the bull by the horns and make a deal with GM and keep the brand alive.
        • 5 Years Ago
        dunno but if they could do a Saturn Cruze Rally car I'd be down

        I mean since penske does suspension stuff
      • 5 Years Ago
      Penske truck rental blows. The routinely overcharge for "under filled" gas tanks and phantom millage. Never rent a truck from Penske.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No matter what deals GM can cook up prior to the June 1st deadline, there is one looming financial conundrum that may unravel the entire spectrum.

      One of the biggest pension plans in the world is General Motors which is underfunded by some $20 billion. If GM files for bankruptcy and its pension plan subsequently collapses, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will pick up part of the tab. Since GM’s plan is so large, its failure will result in the PBGC losing a big source of the premium revenue.
      Then Ford, Toyota and Honda will be looking to rid themselves of their pension plans to cut costs and stay competitive.

      This is turning into a major financial catastrophe behind the scenes, and we should be keeping a watchful eye on any developments in this area that might affect GM if it is forced to file for bankruptcy.

      The sale of Saturn, Saab, Hummer, Opel and Pontiac (maybe) could set off a number of unexpected backfires.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Doesn't the Penske group already do Smart distribution in the US?
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