Roger Penske Buys Saturn

No, not the planet – the defunct auto brand.

A person briefed on the deal says General Motors Corp. will sell its Saturn brand to former race car driver and dealership chain owner Roger Penske.  GM has scheduled a 9 a.m. EDT conference call with Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak. The person briefed on the deal said Penske will be on the call.

Penske has said his company, Penske Automotive Group Inc. of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is interested in the Saturn brand.

Not much to go on but it’s intriguing.  Penske was a star race car driver before I was born and went on to become easily the most dominant team owner in racing, fielding winners in both Indy Car and NASCAR.  He got his start in business as a Chevy dealer.

I’m not sure what he wants with Saturn, a brand that was best known for its “no-haggle pricing” policy but that has not made a memorable car in years.  A NYT report

Under the terms of the deal, Mr. Penske, a former race car driver whose Penske Automotive Group is one of the largest dealerships in the country, will initially buy Saturn vehicles from G.M. But he is expected to eventually buy cars from other carmakers like Renault, through its Samsung Motors Unit in Korea. Mr. Penske’s company, which owns 310 franchises around the world, already serves as the sole distributor of Daimler’s Smart line of small cars.

Perhaps Penske just wants the dealership network? That would make more sense than trying to get into the car manufacturing business at this date.

FILED UNDER: General, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Hmm… the Penske teams in NASCAR run Dodge powered cars. Clearly, we will see Saturns on the track in the next year or two 😉

  2. markm says:

    I’m not sure what he wants with Saturn

    I don’t think he wants Saturn, from what I hear he is more interested in the dealership network…he wants the outlets. I don’t know why but i’m sure it’s beneficial to his other endeavors.

  3. markm says:

    Perhaps Penske just wants the dealership network? That would make more sense than trying to get into the car manufacturing business at this date.

    oops…didn’t see that. Yes, that’s what the rumor is.

  4. Eric Florack says:

    I, for one, would be very interested indeed if he was to try making cars. The imagination runs a bit wild considering the kind of cars he might make. Likely not gonna happen, but still intersting to think about.

  5. Shlok says:

    I liked the Sky Roadster.

  6. markm says:

    The imagination runs a bit wild considering the kind of cars he might make.

    As long as it’s small and “green”.

  7. Michael says:

    I, for one, would be very interested indeed if he was to try making cars.

    I would too, Indy and Nascar require performance, efficiency, flexibility and ease of maintenance. All of which I would like to have in a car.

  8. Eric Florack says:

    As long as it’s small and “green”.

    You’re dooming the thing to failure already?

  9. Eric Florack says:

    Well, it’s interesting, but the way this is developing looks like at least in the short term Penske will continue selling Saturns. For at least a couple years… and GM will still make them… again for at least a couple years. I hear they’re looking at manufacture of Saturns at other locations and by other companes past that date. One assumes that the GM folks would have a hand in the bidding as well.

    This is not Penske’s first foray into such matters, having bought Detroit Diesel a few years back, before selling it to Daimler/Chrysler. (I gather he still has substantial holdings in that group, so don’t be shocked to see DD cough up a smaller offering or two to power Saturns in a few years)

  10. floyd says:

    I think he just heard that a Saturn could run rings around the competition, and that they were Hydrogen powered with huge reserves.

  11. Furhead says:

    floyd, I didn’t know you had it in ya.

  12. PD Shaw says:

    Well, it’s interesting, but the way this is developing looks like at least in the short term Penske will continue selling Saturns.

    I don’t know enough to critique the move, but I wonder where this leaves the current Saturn owners on dealership issues for parts and service. There are a couple of years that I would expect little change, but Penske/Saturn and G.M. might be on diverging paths, particularly if Penske begins contracting with a variety of manufacturers like Renault-Nissan-Samsung.

    G.M. has diminishing interest in the good will of Saturn owners, having sold that to Penske. Penske may be more interested in promoting its new brands and may not be in the best position to offer G.M. parts and service down the road.

  13. Pete Burgess says:

    James, Like my son in law, who you know well, you doubt the genius that exists in entrepreneurs.