The Demise of Saturn Hurts

David Booth from the National Post: So, Saturn is no more. One more bastion of the U.S. auto empire sinks into the quicksand that has been The Great Recession. Its would-be saviour, Roger Penske, has pulled out of the deal quite dramatically one day prior to taking over the "Saturn Homecoming" brand. Penske's master plan was to find some other automaker that would pick up the slack in supplying 350 American (but no Canadian) dealers with a full lineup of cars and crossover SUVs after General Motors stopped supplying Vues, Auras and Outlooks two years hence. Last week, that dream fell apart. According to Penske, while the GM part of the deal was all but inked, the deal was called off because he could not guarantee a "future supply of vehicles beyond the supply period it had negotiated with GM." It looks to be a sad end to an experiment that should have been the domestic auto industry's future. Created in 1990 by Roger Smith, then CEO of General Motors, it was to be a "greenfield" project with none of the baggage of GM's many historic brands. Generating a customer loyalty other domestic marques could only dream about, Saturn was eventually choked into submission by a lack of new product, some say orchestrated by competing GM brand managers jealous of Saturn's exalted position in Smith's business plan. Of all the brands that The General has jettisoned, this is the one that hurts most.

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Breaking News: Saturn Continues to Explore Options, Faces Shutdown in 2011 if No Viable Alternative Found

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General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner announced during a news conference this evening that Saturn will remain in operation through the end of the planned lifecycle for all Saturn products (2010-11). In the interim, should Saturn retailers as a group or other investors present a plan that would allow a spin off or sale of Saturn Distribution Corporation, GM would be open to any such possibility. If a spin off or sale does not occur, it is GM's intention to phase out the Saturn brand at the end of the current product lifecycle.