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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NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Saturn Retailers

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Bill Vlasic from the New York Times reported yesterday that GM is exploring the idea of "a significant shrinking of its North American operations, including shutting more factories and streamlining its sprawling brand lineup, according to people with knowledge of GM's deliberations. One move under discussion, for example, would have GM buy out dealers that exclusively sell Saturns and market the cars through its Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealers instead."