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2009 Smart Fortwo – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Last summer, during Cash For Clunkers, Smart USA offered what sounded like a good deal: buy a Fortwo for just $99/month. Of course, that low price wasn't quite as good as it sounded. Now, the Penske Automotive brand is trying a new deal to get people into the tiny city cars: a $169 per month lease program.

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Just a few weeks ago, former Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak was hired by Penske Automotive to head sales and marketing for its Smart USA operations. Now Lajdziak will take over the entire operation as the new president of Smart USA, replacing Dave Schembri, who held the post since its inception.

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Just a few weeks ago, former Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak was hired by Penske Automotive to head sales and marketing for its Smart USA operations. Now, Smart has announced that Lajdziak will take over the entire operation as the new president of Smart USA, replacing Dave Schembri who has held the post since its inception.

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Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak spent several months this summer and fall working closely with Roger Penske and his staff trying to iron out the details of a proposed purchase of the brand from General Motors. As we know, that deal fell apart when Renault's board of directors vetoed a deal to supply cars to a Penske-owned Saturn. When GM decided to shutter Saturn, Lajdziak announced that she would retire from General Motors at the end of this month.

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Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak spent several months this summer and fall working closely with Roger Penske and his staff, trying to iron out the details of the brand's proposed purchase from General Motors. As we all know, that agreement fell apart when Renault's board of directors vetoed a deal to supply cars to a Penske-owned Saturn. When GM decided to shutter Saturn, Lajdziak promptly announced that she would retire from General Motors at the end of this month.

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Remember the rumor that Roger Penske is looking to bring Renault back to America via his recently-procured network of Saturn dealerships? Consider it a rumor no more, as the deed has been confirmed by none other than Renault's chief operating officer Patrick Pelata, who said in a recent interview:

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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

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Penske Automotive Group has reportedly contracted the services of former Chrysler President Tom LaSorda, who left the automaker when it filed for Chapter 11 protection on April 30th, to advise it on its possible bid to purchase the Saturn brand from current parent General Motors. Up until the year 2000 when he joined Chrysler, LaSorda had been an executive at GM.

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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

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