The future of Saturn

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Roger Penske has purchased the rights to the Saturn name from GM, as well as the dealer distribution network. As part of the deal GM has agreed to continue to produce three of the current Saturn models for the next two years. At that point Penske will have to look elsewhere for someone to build his cars. What happens five years from now when someone who buys a new Saturn Aura tomorrow needs parts? Did this deal include any provisions for the continued production of replacement parts and maintenance items for the GM build models? Without knowing the answer to these questions I'd have to think long and hard about buying a new Saturn. Also, I wonder why Penske doesn't just consider buying the Saturn plant in Tenn when the GM deal is up? That way Saturn would become a true stand-alone care manufacturer, not just a name.
 
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I think there's a federal law that automakers have to manufacture or make available (repeat, have to) replacement parts for a vehicle for 7 years after the model run ends, so this should cover the replacment part issue for a while. Penske is a smart guy. I don't see any problems here...
 
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Should be no problem with parts for the Saturn Aura, as it is a re-badged Chevy Malibu. As for the plant in Tennessee, I don't believe it is producing any Saturns right now. I'm sure the Aura's are being produced right alongside the Chevy Malibu's. It would make sense for GM to try to negotiate a contract extension to continue manufacturing any models that Penske wants.
 
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He can probably spec out what he wants to some manufacturer in China. I'd also read something about the possibility of rebadging Renaults as Saturns?
 
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Don't worry, the other surviving GM dealers, not too mention independents, will be happy to take your money for servicing a Saturn. A GM is a GM is a GM. Penske has no business trying to run a manufacturing company, much less engineer a car. He is a retail distributor. Saturn will be just a name under which a variety of cars will be sold, like the Eagle brand. GM will be kicking itself for selling the name cheaply to someone that wants to compete against them in the marketplace.
 

Bill in Utah

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Penske would not to want anything that would link him to GM for the long term since its very doubtful that GM will be around much longer. Roger bought Saturn so he can use the network for his SmartCars in the future and other cars down the road. I seriously doubt he will be MFG anything. Just reselling and servicing the new cars. I would not be buying ANYTHING Saturn due to the same fears you listed. Also the resale of Saturn (which was low) has plummeted beyond belief. My Dad was thinking of selling his 2005 Vue with the Honda V6 and while its as clean as they come, even at a low price could not get anyone to come look at it. Take care, bill
 
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Who would design the car? Who would design the equipment to upgrade the plant to build a new car??? Tooling costs are probably 500 million for a new car? He will go to China and somehow hope he can pull this off in two years off an existing design already in the works. THe question will be, will current Saturn owners want a china built car rebadged a Saturn, somehow I think not.
 Originally Posted By: G-MAN
Roger Penske has purchased the rights to the Saturn name from GM, as well as the dealer distribution network. As part of the deal GM has agreed to continue to produce three of the current Saturn models for the next two years. At that point Penske will have to look elsewhere for someone to build his cars. What happens five years from now when someone who buys a new Saturn Aura tomorrow needs parts? Did this deal include any provisions for the continued production of replacement parts and maintenance items for the GM build models? Without knowing the answer to these questions I'd have to think long and hard about buying a new Saturn. Also, I wonder why Penske doesn't just consider buying the Saturn plant in Tenn when the GM deal is up? That way Saturn would become a true stand-alone care manufacturer, not just a name.
 
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This whole concept of Saturn emerging like a phoenix from the ashes of GM is just a pipe dream. As someone else mentioned, Penske simply wants the name and an existing dealer network so he can peddle Chinese or perhaps Indian entrants into the US market. While Roger is no fool, this is a HUGE gamble and was only possible as a result of him getting the Saturn brand for a song. It's anyone's guess if even a scrappy guy like Penske can pull this rabbit out of its hat.
 
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A lot of people loved those plastic-skinned cars from the early Saturn. I KINDA liked the SC, but had no use for the SL or L. IMO, Saturn was finally getting its act together in the quality game when it was given the axe. Love what they did with the new Vue. Have always loved the Sky. I considered the Aura to be the Malibu's better looking brother. I guess the rest of America doesn't share my opinion. I hate to see the name drug through the mud with Chinese imports.
 
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 Originally Posted By: Familyguy
This whole concept of Saturn emerging like a phoenix from the ashes of GM is just a pipe dream. As someone else mentioned, Penske simply wants the name and an existing dealer network so he can peddle Chinese or perhaps Indian entrants into the US market. While Roger is no fool, this is a HUGE gamble and was only possible as a result of him getting the Saturn brand for a song. It's anyone's guess if even a scrappy guy like Penske can pull this rabbit out of its hat.
Agree. I don't think this is about saving Saturn, jobs, etc. It's just bid'ness.
 
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 Originally Posted By: opus1
I think there's a federal law that automakers have to manufacture or make available (repeat, have to) replacement parts for a vehicle for 7 years after the model run ends, so this should cover the replacment part issue for a while. Penske is a smart guy. I don't see any problems here...
I don't know if this is true or not in the automotive world, but even if it is, at what price & lead-time?
 
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 Originally Posted By: benjamming
I don't know if this is true or not in the automotive world, but even if it is, at what price & lead-time?
Even if it is true (I don't know), I strongly doubt it is eforceable when the parent company goes bankrupt.
 
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I have worked on and off in the automotive parts industry since 1982 for GM and NAPA. There is no law that a manufacturer has to provide parts for a certain time period. It is an urban myth. Thanks, Dave
 
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Penske is an avid car person and excellent owner/manager (unlike GM leadership). I have full confidance that he will approach this like he did with the Diesel engine company he bought from GM.
 

G-MAN

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 Originally Posted By: 1999nick
Should be no problem with parts for the Saturn Aura, as it is a re-badged Chevy Malibu.
Actually, both cars are based on the Opel Epsilon platform so neither is a "re-badged" version of the other.
 
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Though they do share a large amount of mechanical parts between the 2 of them. Any ways what ever happens it is going to be interesting.
 
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I think you will see Roger selling the "end of the run" cars from anyone,or a low seller. "Hay Ford can I take those excess 500's off your hands?" He can be a alternative to fleet or rental sales. As far as parts ,if there is a demand some one will meet it. Like somebody already stated all he got was the name and dealer outlets
 

G-MAN

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I just did a little research on the Tenn plant. I hadn't realized that GM had stopped all Saturn production there two years ago and now the plant is shut down completely. I can't believe our tax dollars are being used to prop up a company that has been so mismanaged over the last three decades. Some companies deserve to go out of business.
 
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I think this has a slim chance of long term success. The way I see it, the costs and incentives are not aligned to make a competitive quality product. Previously GM was the manufacturer and owner of the brand. So they had incentive to protect it. Now it will be the Saturn brand getting the blame for issues, and the loosely related manufacturer having to spend the money to prevent them. IMHO, that is a recipe for disaster. Depending on your perspective, a brand is either a "promise" (from the company) or an "expectation" (in the eye of the consumer). Some automakers can charge more than others because their promise/expectation is better. Those who think the higher cost is justified would call it a better promise, and those who don't think its justified would call it just an expectation. Regardless of how you view it, that is all a brand really has to offer. And protecting it requires a long term commitment. Sometimes a big company that makes cheap tools buys a small, reputable tool brand... They sell a lot of cheap junk until they have consumed the value that was seen in the brand name. It will be hard for them to not let that happen to the Saturn brand. Saturn could maintain a massive QA organization to make sure the low bidder is giving them junk. To be thorough - and protect their brand - this would duplicate a lot of overhead with the manufacturer, which would make them uncompetitive on price. Or they can do much lighter verification and hope the low bidder isn't giving them junk.
 
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