Chicago Tribune: The Saturn Irony
Jim MacPherson from the Chicago Tribune: One ironic aspect of the pending sale of the Saturn Division by General Motors to Roger Penske has received little, if any, media attention. In one fell swoop, General Motors will create what automakers have spent decades trying to avoid: a significant independent dealer group that can negotiate with automakers from a position of power on matters governing pricing, vehicle features, and design. How appropriate, as the history of Saturn is full of ironic twists. Manufacturers have limited the number of dealerships any one seller can acquire, in part to make sure that no dealership group could make pricing or design demands. Not since Sears offered the Allstate (a thinly disguised Henry J made by Kaiser-Frazer) in '52 and '53 have we seen this potential. The Saturn experiment might produce more profound changes than GM envisioned when it first started developing the brand in 1983 or delivered the first vehicle in 1991.