Saturn no longer ‘sold’

UPDATE – Press release now added.
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I was a little bit releived when I woke up this morning and found that Bard Eker’s supposed ‘deadline’ had passed without a massive influx of stories into my inbox and comments here. Koenigsegg are apparently still working things out.
But…..
In evidence that these deals should not to be considered signed, sealed and delivered until they actually are signed, sealed and delivered, Roger Penske has just pulled out of his deal to buy Saturn from GM.

Penske Automotive Group Inc. said late Wednesday it has broken off talks with General Motors Co. to buy GM’s Saturn brand. In a statement, Penske said it became concerned about “the future supply of vehicles beyond the supply period it had negotiated with GM” during the due diligence process. “The company had negotiated a definitive agreement with GM to source vehicles on a contract-manufactured basis for a period of time,” Penske said. “After this period, the company would have been required to source vehicles from another third party under a similar contract-manufacturing agreement.” Penske started talks with GM over acquiring Saturn in early June.

Saturn was, of course, one of the GM brands considered surplus to requirements, just like Saab. GM said that these brands, if they weren’t acquired by someone, would be abandoned at December 31 this year. Pontiac’s already gone and it seems, so too is Saturn.
The WSJ are now reporting that Saturn will just be closed down. It sounds like they’re not even going to try and find another buyer with just three months left in the year.

General Motors said it would close its Saturn operation after Penske Automotive Group ended its effort to acquire the brand.

If the renewed nervousness about the sale of Saab has any grounds to it, then I hope it comes to a head soon. Unlike Saturn, Saab actually has a product, design team and factory of its own and I’m sure there are still parties looking to buy it should Koenigsegg Group ‘do a Penske’.
I hope it doesn’t come to that, though. One stable sale would be preferable.
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The press release from Penske about their decision:
Penske Automotive Terminates Discussions with General Motors to Acquire Saturn
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Penske Automotive Group, Inc. an international automotive retailer, today announced that it has terminated its discussions with General Motors Company (“GM”) to acquire the Saturn brand, citing concerns directly related to the future supply of vehicles beyond the supply period it had negotiated with GM.
Since announcing its discussions with GM on June 5, 2009, the company has been in the due diligence process to determine the feasibility of developing an independent distribution model for Saturn-branded products and service parts in the United States, including the sourcing of vehicles from GM and other potential suppliers. The company had negotiated a definitive agreement with GM to source vehicles on a contract-manufactured basis for a period of time. After this period, the company would have been required to source vehicles from another third party under a similar contract-manufacturing agreement.
Penske Automotive Group negotiated the terms and conditions of an agreement with another manufacturer; however, that agreement was rejected by that manufacturer’s board of directors. Without that agreement, the company has determined that the risks and uncertainties related to the availability of future products prohibit the company from moving forward with this transaction.
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And the press release from General Motors:
General Motors Media Statement Attributed President & CEO Fritz Henderson
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. PAG’s announcement explained that their decision was not based on interactions with GM or Saturn retailers; rather it was because of the inability to source new products beyond what it had asked GM to build on contract.
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.
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.
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.

Swade’s still sleeping snippets

After all of that travel, our host, Swade, is likely comatose for a few more hours yet.
Snippet #1: Penske purchases Saturn.

This really only indirectly effects the majority of Saab owners, but Penske seems to like to be a “virtual” OEM — distributing and servicing cars without actually manufacturing them. They are the folks behind the Smart car in North America, which is, of course, designed and manufactured by Daimler. Of late, Saturn has been essentially the same thing: they’ve been re-badging Opels to sell in North America. According to several sources, Penske is interested in choosing from vehicles manufactured by any auto OEM that will sell in substantial volume here in the US and Canada.
Since Saab and Saturn are distributed in the same channel in Canada, I suspect that Penske would gladly sign up to be the Saab dealer network in that country, and it would be an easy fit for Saab, too. Fair enough. EDIT: Per Bruce in comments, I did not realize that Penske had decided to ax the Canadian market once they assume ownership of Saturn, which naturally poses a question of exactly who will serve the Canadian market for Saabs? Ouch. And all this time I felt good about it because the Canadians were “taken care of”. Not so. This begs the question then for both the US and Canada: Will Saab build the infrastructure to support these dealers, or will someone else fill the void?
I suppose that one could make a good argument for a similar deal in the United States: let the Penske-owned Saturn dealers handle Saabs as well. If we had no other existing dealer network, that would be fine. However, we do have a cadre of well-versed Saab dealers that presumably would prefer to continue the relationship with Saab. Perhaps here in the United States, Penske could serve as a distributor to the existing dealer network? It would relieve Saab of the pressures and logistics of distribution — a business that isn’t necessarily Saab’s forte.
I can also see that many of Saab’s designs could be built in China, Korea or the US and distributed as Saturns through a company like Penske. We Saabisti would win because the Saab-designed cars would be more readily available and presumably less expensive.
I’ve stated before that I’d like Saab to pursue non-traditional distribution schemes to maximize the footprint with as little investment in time and resources as possible. Either option would certainly work towards that goal.
Side bar:
On a very sad note for those of us in my local area, the GM Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, originally built in the middle and late 1980’s to manufacture Saturn automobiles, will close in November after just completing a 14-month renovation to produce the Chevrolet Traverse and sister vehicles.
Snippet #2: What does this picture tell you about the way that I drive?

hand.jpg

According to this article in the Daily Mail, plenty.
You see, it seems that my hands tell tales that I’m not willing to admit!
In a recent series of studies, science has determined that the length of a man’s ring finger corresponds to several traits, one of which is aggressive driving. They asked several men to catalog their various traffic offenses and one of the strongest correlations was to ring finger length. The longer the fourth finger, the more aggressive the driver.
As you can see from the photograph, my fourth finger is longer by about one-quarter to three-eights inch (8 mm to 10 mm) than my index (second) finger.
I could tell this tale in many ways, but I’ll say this: I had to apply for a waiver to be commissioned as a lieutenant in the United States Air Force because I had accumulated eight traffic offenses before graduation from college at age 22. During the four-year span that I owned my first Saab, I was cited five times in four US states (Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and Colorado). I’ve been to traffic court in at least ten jurisdictions across the country (fifteen would be my best guess).
You could say that I’m a case-in-point. Are you?
Age has mellowed me; I’ve not been pulled over by the cops in at least three years. I’m trying to continue that trend. I may start some kind of syndrome to help other guys get out of their tickets — “Quad Phalange Syndrome (QPS)” or “Long Fourth Malady (L4M)”. It just might work…Abbott, check the precedents!
Snippet # 3: Is it just me, or does the “baby Rangie” look like a Saab 9x SUV?

rr promo sep 2009.jpg

I saw this announcement on Top Gear and immediately thought that it had the same basic silhouette as the Saab 9x, only in beef cake SUV form. Maybe it’s the white color, wrap-around windows and clam-shell hood, but, wow, I think that it’s got a lot of 9x in it. Your thoughts?
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Additional note: My indy Saab shop (now working on many makes) needs a manager for their second location. If you are interested and have some management experience, they want to talk to you. This location has been open only one month but has exploded with business in an under served area. I know that jobs may be tough to come by these days, so I’m spreading the word. Naturally, you’ll have to live or move here.

Monday Night Snippets – nothing rhymes with orange edition

Still in the care of aliens… they’re referring to me as ’10 of 9′ for some reason. Maybe because I’m overweight?
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Saabs are marketed with Saturns in Canada and we’ve already heard that GM has let Saab dealers know they’re cutting the ties on December 31st.
It seems the Saturn half of that pairing is now fubar-ed as well, with Saturn’s new corporate parent, the Penske Group, pulling the pin on Saturn in Canada.
That light at the end of the tunnel is looking more and more like a train all the time……
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Jalopnik are covering a Saab 99 as their “Nice Price or Crack Pipe” car today.
I’m not so befuddled by the price. I’m just wondering why you’d shoehorn a 16v into a Saab 99 and have it not include a turbo.
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Apparently this is just another day in Sylt – a playground for the rich in Germany.
Markus was there – unsure if he’s a fixture or was just visiting 🙂 – and he snapped a photo of the carpark.
KSeggVW.JPG
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Whilst having a brief moment outside the spaceship, I was pondering what would be the first song I downloaded onto the 10GB hard drive in my first test of the new Saab 9-5.
I’m not one to give a car a name, but I have been known to reserve a special tune for first play in a new car. For years, that tune was It’s Only Natural by adopted Aussies, Crowded House (circa 1980’s NYC film clip there) but I think the time for recapturing “the Philip Island years” has passed.
A new car. A new generation. Time for a new first tune?
Anyone else do such silly things?

Confirmed: Penske buys Saturn

I’m not sure what they’re going to sell there when GM stop producing Saturn vehicles. Whatever they want, I guess.
Here’s the press release. Saab will be last to get GM’s sales attention. Imagine that.
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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.

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