All Saturn dealers are holding their breath for the possible takeover of Roger Penske, an auto magnate who saved Detroit Diesel and is now seeking to take control of the cast-off General Motors brand.
It is believed that a decision could be made as early as this week. However, Penske and his team at Penske Automotive Group in suburban Detroit have declined to discuss the takeover until it is completed, says Autonews.
It is believed that if Penske gets Saturn, he will shave dealer profits, have less generous operating rules and opt for a smaller factory organization to support it. However, the dealers know that if Saturn could be saved then only Penske can do it.
Joe Serra, president of Serra Automotive Inc. in Grand Blanc, Mich., said that Penske is "the only person in the industry who can do this." Serra was one of the first Saturn dealers Penske contacted when he considered bidding on Saturn. Saturn had declined due to the economic downturn, the dearth of relevant products, and by the shifting attitudes of its parent company.
That led GM to decide to let go of Saturn. Serra, a multibrand dealer with 23 stores around the country, had proposed along with other dealers that they themselves buy the brand from GM.
Through the 90s, millions were spent by retailers to open customer-friendly Saturn stores in GM's bid to reclaim the market. But sales didn't quite achieve the heights expected of it. From 435 in 2008, there were only 350 Saturn franchises left at the beginning of 2009. Penske's publicly traded company owns 160 dealerships in the United States and Great Britain.