Don Hudler: "I Didn’t Expect to Finish this Way"

Peter Brown from Automotive News: At 75, Saturn megadealer Don Hudler figures he's going to stick with the brand till the fat lady sings. "We're diehards. We'll probably go to the bitter end," Hudler, the former chairman of Saturn Corp., said last week after the shocking news that Roger Penske's deal to buy the Saturn brand had collapsed. Hudler owns three Saturn dealerships in Houston and three in Dallas. The day after the deal collapsed, floor traffic "all but stopped," he said. Hudler's history is intertwined with the once-promising brand. He was its marketing chief in the early 1990s as Saturn became the industry's leader in customer service and loyalty. Then he became chairman, briefly ran a GM subsidiary that bought more than 20 Saturn dealerships, and then bought the Texas stores in 2001. Now he's looking at an empty cupboard and a slow death for the brand. "I never like to admit that I don't have a plan," he said in a phone interview. "But I was stunned by it. It sounded like it [the sale to Penske] was just waiting to close."

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Developing Story: Penske Backs Out of Deal, General Motors to Close Saturn

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With negotiations expected to finalize tomorrow, Roger Penske shockingly announced to GM and the public today that he is backing out of the deal after failing to secure a manufacturer for the brand. For a couple of months now, Penske has been courting Renault-Nissan in an effort to outsource a model for the Saturn brand.