Roger Penske Back to Earth
November 17, 2009
GM announced the hoped-for sale of Saturn to the Penske Automotive Group will not materialize. (The original plan would have ensured the Vue, Outlook, and Aura would remain on the market for 2010 while the rest of the details were ironed out.) The Penske organization stressed the deal falling through was not a result of meetings with dealers or GM but rather because it couldn't find a new-product supplier (Renault was the name most often heard) to keep vehicles flowing after GM's agreed-to production ceased. Saturn was beginning the wrap-up process and reminds customers its vehicle can be serviced at GM dealerships.
The Saturn brand name lasted just 20 years, with the first Saturn ("a different kind of car") on sale at a different kind of dealer in 1990. In 1991, Saturn led the industry in new-car sales per dealer (Toyota has it now) and had built half a million cars with unique engines and architecture by 1993. Sales peaked in 1994 at 286,000 units and by 1997 Saturns were being exported to Japan. The Vue joined the ranks in 2002 and the forgettable Ion the next year, with 2006 adding GM-sibling Outlook and Sky. Despite the Aura winning the North American Car of the Year award and using the Astra as the compact the sale slide never stopped.