Confirming a report we posted on earlier today, General Motors has reached a preliminary agreement to handover the Saturn marque to the Penske Automotive Group. In GM's official statement after the jump, the automaker says that the memorandum of understanding would entitle Penske to the brand's 350+ dealerships, the rights to the name and its associated iconography, as well as continued production of the Aura, Vue, and Outlook on a contract basis. As expected, the dormant Astra hatchback and the rakish Sky roadster will apparently not make the transition. No financial terms of the deal have been released.

As reported earlier today by The New York Times, that abbreviated Saturn lineup will likely be joined by vehicles procured from other overseas automakers, potentially Renault's Samsung Motors division in Korea. It is not immediately clear if Penske will use the opportunity to pair existing Saturn stores with the company's other automotive distribution channel, Smart.

According to GM, the agreement is expected to be consummated in the third quarter of this year, pending the necessary paperwork shuffling between the two companies and the federal government. Check out the official press release after the jump

[Source: General Motors]


PRESS RELEASE:

General Motors, Penske outline proposed deal for purchase of Saturn

Transaction would save more than 13,000 jobs; preserves renowned brand and retail network

Detroit -- General Motors Corp. and Penske Automotive Group today confirmed details of a proposed transaction under which Penske would acquire the Saturn brand. If completed, the deal would save more than 350 dealerships and 13,000 jobs at Saturn and its retailers in the United States, and would preserve the customer-focused Saturn brand.

The proposed transaction is part of GM's rebuilding efforts outlined in the viability plan that was submitted to the U.S. government earlier this year. Under the terms in the memorandum of understanding, Penske would obtain the rights to the brand as well as certain other Saturn assets. GM would continue production, on a contract basis, of the Saturn Aura, Vue and Outlook.

"This is the combination of two iconic teams: Saturn and Penske," said Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak. "GM had the vision to create Saturn and has the desire to see it succeed in the future."

"Saturn has a passionate customer base and outstanding dealer network," said Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Automotive Group. "For nearly 20 years Saturn has focused on treating the customer right. We share that philosophy, and we want to build on those strengths."

Saturn began selling cars in 1990 and has sold more than 4 million vehicles. More than 80 percent of those vehicles are still in operation, according to data from R.L. Polk. Saturn has regularly scored among the industry leaders for non-luxury brands in customer satisfaction surveys.

"There has been a groundswell of support for Saturn, with our retailers and owners urging us to save the brand," said Lajdziak. "We heard their call loud and clear, and it inspired us as we worked to secure Saturn's future."

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Financial terms of the agreement will not be disclosed at this time.