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Future owner of brand would eliminate Canadian operations once sale with GM goes through
According to a recent report on CBC Radio’s French website Radio Canada, the Penske Automotive Group plans to close all the Saturn dealers in Canada once its deal to buy the brand from General Motors is complete.
At one time there were 60 Saturn dealers in Canada, but half of those dropped out of the business during this turbulent year as General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. The business case for keeping just 30 dealers in such a vast country as Canada apparently makes for a poor business decision.
We can also speculate on additional concerns, including the fact that if Penske does plan to rebadge Renault vehicles, as has widely been speculated, then there would be twice as much red tape involved by having to go through not just U.S., but also Canadian bureaucratic regulation procedures.
The closure of Saturn in Canada is expected to effect 2,000 people.
[Source: Autoblog via Radio Canada]
If all goes as planned the Penske-owned Saturn brand could be selling rebadged vehicles from French automaker Renault in the U.S. Thought to be a wild rumor at first, Renault has now confirmed that Penske has in fact approached the automaker to supply both parts and cars.
Currently Penske Automotive Group has a tentative deal with General Motors to buy its Saturn brand. Penske is expected to take full control of the company by September. The deal would see GM continue to supply vehicles for two years and does not include any manufacturing abilities, meaning that Penske must forge an alliance with another automaker to obtain vehicles.
Renault spokeswoman Frederique LeGreves would not comment further on the proposed deal but did say that it would not involve any part of Renault’s Nissan division.
Penske Automotive spokesman Tony Pordon wouldn’t comment specifically either but did say that his company is in talks with several different manufacturers.
In Europe Renault sells a full line of vehicles including the popular compact Clio as well as high performance models like the Megane RS (pictured above).
[Source: Automotive News]
Official Announcement Expected Later Today
General Motors has reached an agreement with the Penske Automotive Group on the sale of its Saturn brand. An official announcement is expected to be made by both parties later today.
The Penske Automotive Group was thought to be one of the front-runners in the bidding war, which also reportedly included Nissan/Renault, Mitsubishi and investment firm Telesto Ventures.
The news comes just days after GM sold off its Hummer brand to Chinese industrial equipment manufacturer Tengzhong.
The Penske Automotive Group is comprised of several key automotive related companies and boasts the second largest dealer network in the U.S., accounting for sales of 171,872 vehicles in 2008.
Penske also distributes the SMART car throughout the United States under a deal with Mercedes parent company Daimler.
As a former race car driver, Roger Penske continues to be involved in motorsports, and currently runs teams in three major racing series: the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the Indy Racing League (IRL).
The sale of Saturn would leave GM with just the Swedish brand Saab to dispose of. It has been reported that buyers for Saab have been narrowed down to just two: Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg and the U.S.-based Renco Group.
The news was reported this morning in the New York Times, which also said that after an initial contract with GM runs out, the Penske operated Saturn brand is expected to sell Renault vehicles in the United States. Does this mean North America will finally get cars like the Clio and Megane…. or even the Megane R.S.? (pictured above)
[Source: New York Times]
Roger Penske and Daimler Chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche take a ride in a SMART car. Penske currently distributes SMART cars for Diamler in the U.S. and is rumored to be interested in purchasing Saturn from GM.
A day after General Motors released a vague statement declaring that it is moving to “the next step” in the sale of the Saturn brand it appears as though Roger Penske is one of the interested buyers.
Penske, a former race car driver and now the man at the top of an automotive empire is no stranger to the business, owning numerous dealerships. In fact, Penske’s dealership chain is listed as the second largest in the United States, accounting for 171,872 vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2008.
The Penske dealership network is not immune to the current economic climate, with Q1 profits down roughly 50 percent from the year previous. Still, the company managed a 16.2 million profit.
The Penske Automotive Group even distributes the SMART car for Mercedes/Daimler throughout the United States.
Currently Penske oversees three major racing initiatives in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the Indy Racing League (IRL). He is also a well-known supporter of the city of Detroit and the U.S. auto industry, having helped bring the racing back to Detroit’s Belle Isle in recent years as well as assisting in bringing the Superbowl to the struggling city.
The Wall Street Journal cited an unnamed source in regards to Penske’s interest. The individual said that while Penske is interested, no offer has been made.
[Source: Automotive News]
[Photo Credit: TheAutoChanel]