Auto Manifesto

June 6, 2009

Penske Acquires Saturn

This is a huge boost for the 350+ Saturn dealers. As I suggested in December, this was a probable opportunity.

Roger Penske operates the second largest auto dealership group in the country (Penske Automotive Group) as measured by revenue. In addition to the auto group, Penske is also the U.S. distributor of the Smart ForTwo by Mercedes, owner of a
reknown racing team (they've just won their 15th Indy 500 last month), and operates one of the largest truck leasing fleets in the world (over 200,000 trucks). Pretty much the midas touch.

Penske's plan is to import cars based on Renault-designs manufactured by Samsung in Korea starting some time in the 2012 time frame. Until then they hope to continue selling the current most of the current models.

While it's a move GM has to make to focus on its core, it's another case of selling tomorrow for today. Clearly Penske is likely to succeed with the project. Not only that, he's starting with one of the better dealer networks within GM. Saturn has long been known for great service, no pressure sales and no-haggle pricing.

What GM is doing is creating a tough new competitor for itself in a few years (perhaps along with Hummer).

I haven't seen any further mention of the Sky roadster and the Delware plant where it's built along with the Pontiac Solstice. But don't be surprised if Penske picked these to flesh out the future product line as well.

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