Podcast: General Manager of NC Retail Group Discusses Penske’s Pending Acquisition of Saturn

Saturn of Raleigh and Saturn of Cary recently posted an audio podcast featuring commentary from Bill Shotwell, executive general manager and vice president of the North Carolina Triangle area Saturn retail facilities. Shotwell discusses Penske Automotive Group's pending purchase of Saturn from General Motors. He also offers insight into how Saturn and its customers have handled the challenges that have surfaced throughout the buyout.

Some notes from the podcast:

  • On the subject of Saturn's future plans: "What Penske is going to do for us is bring us world-class products."
  • On the discontinued Sky and Astra: "The Sky is going to hurt a little bit, a lot of people come to see that car. Some people call it the little Batmobile, but from a sales volume standpoint it really just drew people into the stores." While the Sky will not be replaced, at least not immediately, he said the Astra will be. Penske is working on finding a replacement – Saturn's "bread and butter car" – right now. Shotwell is looking forward to having a new high-volume small car.
  • On the Aura, Outlook, and Vue: They cover "a big spectrum of folks; about 60% of the market."
  • On the closing the deal: The acquisition will be completed in fall, and will save 13,000 jobs and 350 dealers. In addition, new jobs will be created within the Penske organization to support the retail infrastructure. Also, Penske is hiring folks to rebuild the Saturn field organization. All in all, it represents "an opportunity for a lot of folks."
  • On the retail sales experience: Penske is "going to change the way people feel about buying cars, the way Saturn started it, and it's going to absolutely explode in the way people feel about buying a car."
  • On the acquisition of Saturn: When Penske was approached about the possibility of buying Saturn, he did some investigating on his own. Roger Penske "went upon himself and started by visiting Saturn stores," Shotwell said. "He went in quietly and no one even knew who he was. He just kind of shopped the cars, and he fell in love with the whole experience and process of Saturn and what we were all about, and from that he started looking into buying Saturn."
  • On GM's decision to jettison Saturn last December: It "a complete shock to all of us," he said. But, Shotwell was amazed by "the amount of customers we had who came into our showrooms and came into our service departments and were just cheering us on."
  • On impact of Roger Penske: Shotwell remarked how "customers more passionate than ever about the whole Penske organization." In particular, Penske racing fans "who never owned a Saturn before" are coming in and buying cars because of Penske.

Listen to the full podcast below:

Source: Triangle Saturn Newsblog

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