The Grand Saturn Experiment Continues to Evolve

Jeff Bodary from the Examiner: Previously I discussed the idea of a business model that separates manufacturing from retailing and distribution. It puts all marketing responsibilities in the hands of the distribution channel and essentially sub-contracts vehicle manufacturing out to one or more automakers. It saves the distributor the huge fixed costs of production and saves the manufacturer the huge costs of having to maintain a sales and marketing function. Many Asian automakers operate in a similar manner. Toyota separates manufacturing and sales operations around the world, as does Honda. What's different in the Penske/GM sale is that Penske Automotive Group will control the brand without having ties to a specific manufacturer. And as a "free agent" of sorts it can solicit proposals from any manufacturer who produces a product that supports the image and equity of the Saturn brand.

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Saturn Outlook 'Distinctively Different'

In the past, General Motors had a bad habit "badge-engineering" models in an effort to increase its economies of scale, as it minimized cost investments. While company officials would've liked to believe that different grill and trim treatments differentiated otherwise look-alike models, its customers weren't fooled.