NJ Retailer Temporarily Allowed to Sell Saturns Alongside Another Brand

Saturn of Denville, New Jersey

Last September, Stuart Lasser, owner of the Saturn of Danville in New Jersey, submitted an application to Saturn asking for permission to sell Kias in his 15,000-foot-square lot. The troubled economy coupled with GM’s financial woes has caused sales at the dealership to plummet. By adding Kia to his product lineup, Lasser hoped to compensate for the lack of revenue.

Lasser did a similar thing at his nearby lot in Mount Olive. The Mount Olive dealership was exclusive to Subaru until he decided to add Kia. Subaru granted him permission.

Selling more than one brand on a Saturn dealer lot, however, is prohibited by Saturn as outlined in their franchise agreement. Accordingly, Saturn executives denied Lasser's application and then denied a similar second application filed in October. Feeling frustrated, Lasser filed a lawsuit against Saturn in a federal court on November 20th maintaining that GM compromised the Saturn "brand and its image by failing to provide exclusive products and launch new models with inadequate support."

"I was an original-launch Saturn dealer," said Lasser, who also has Saturn dealerships in Mount Olive and Livingston. "In a million years, I never expected to take them to court. But they forced my hand."

Since filing the lawsuit in November, the outlook for General Motors has grown grimmer. In February, GM announced that it was selling, closing or spinning off the Saturn brand. Now, the company is possibly only days away from filing for bankruptcy protection, maybe even as soon as Monday. As a result, the district court of New Jersey granted Lasser a preliminary injunction last Thursday with two stipulations. First, Lasser must construct a barrier between the two brands on the lot. Second, the ruling would be invalid if the new company buying Saturn demands that the retailer be exclusive to the brand.

Source: Daily Record

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