Motor Trend: Penske Hopes to "Use a Competitor’s Excess North American Capacity" for New Saturns

Samsung SM3

Motor Trend reports in its September 2009 issue that Roger Penske ultimately plans to sell Saturn vehicles that are built in North America. The magazine speculates that next-generation Saturn vehicles will be based on Renault-Samsung-Nissan models, which will be built in Nissan North American factories that have excess, spare capacity.

When his acquisition of Saturn is completed next month, Penske will "find himself in charge of a kind of modern-day American Motors," Motor Trend says. Once deal is done, GM will continue to build the current Aura, Outlook, and Vue models for Saturn until at least 2011. After that, it will be up to Penske to either negotiate an extended arrangement with GM or establish new relationships with other manufacturers. The latter is what industry sources say is Penske's goal.

In addition to purchasing the Saturn brand name, Penske also "takes over GM's Saturn parts distribution network in Spring Hill, Tennessee," writes MT. "This is key to independent Saturn operations."

So what does Motor Trend think Saturn's future lineup will look like?

  • The brand's compact Astra replacement could be based on Nissan's Versa or Sentra models, and as a result, could be manufactured at Nissan's plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
  • "The Nissan Altima is the likely basis for Saturn's Aura replacement." The magazine says that Nissian plans to redesign the Altima in 2012, "which coincides with the end of GM-Aura production." MT adds that there is spare capacity in Nissan's Tennessee plant now that its "tentatively planned" product-sharing deal with Chrylser is off the table due to "Fiat's takeover of Chrysler Group."
  • Keeping with the Nissan-based lineup, Motor Trend says that a new "crossover sized between the Outlook and Vue, with two rows of seats as in the Vue, could be the based on the Nissan Murano." Other reports have suggested that the future Vue will be based on the Nissan Rogue, while the Outlook replacement will utilize the Murano platform.

While the vehicles cited in the Motor Trend report are "Nissans," it is more likely that the new Saturns would be closer to Nissan's corporate stablemates sold by Renault-Samsung in Korea. It is important to note the Penske is not interested in merely reselling rebadged products. Vehicles sold by Saturn will leverage platforms utilized by another manufacturer's product, but the models built for Saturn will be designed and manufactured to Saturn specifications. Nissan and Renault-Samsung vehicles share platforms and parts, but some of the Samsung vehicles that are unique and would offer a starting point for Saturn's new car designs (see the Samsung SM3, for example).

Penske has also said he plans to sell an electric car "produced in the U.S."

Source: Motor Trend

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