General Motors to Wind Down Saturn Brand After Penske Halts Talks

Mike Ramsey and Bill Koenig from Bloomberg: General Motors will close Saturn, the brand created 24 years ago to mirror Japanese companies' carmaking, after Penske Automotive Group broke off discussions to buy the unit. Penske, operator of 310 auto retailers, backed out because of concern it wouldn't have access to cars and sport-utility vehicles after 2011 when GM was due to stop supplying them, Penske said in a statement. Renault SA's board rejected a deal to build cars for Saturn, a person familiar with the talks said. Penske Auto, based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, had planned to import vehicles carrying the Saturn label from a maker such as Renault Samsung Motors, a South Korean unit of France's Renault that doesn't now export to the U.S. Penske said today an agreement with a manufacturer to supply vehicles was rejected by the potential partner's board. Saturn dealers will have until October 2010 to wind down operations, John McDonald, a GM spokesman, said in an interview.

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Is America Ready for a Real European Car?

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The Astra's insides are well built and well trimmed if a bit austere, with lots of black, grey and silver plastic. You can tell the Astra wasn't designed in the US; it's a little shy on cupholders and there's no MP3 player input jack for the stereo. Still, as compact cars go it's marginally cheerier than the VW Rabbit's cabin, though not nearly as stylish as the Nissan Sentra or Honda Civic.