Penske Calls Off Saturn Deal with GM

From the Detroit News: Detroit tycoon Roger Penske has terminated a deal with General Motors for the Saturn brand after Penske's prospective provider of new vehicles pulled out. The deal broke down after the Renault-Nissan Alliance decided Wednesday not to proceed with a deal to supply Penske with future vehicles for Saturn dealers, according to a source familiar with the discussions. The deal's unraveling dooms about 340 dealers and the Saturn brand, which appeared to have been rescued this summer when Penske announced he had reached a memorandum of understanding with GM. The deal was expected to be finalized as early as Wednesday, and dealers already had signed and returned new two-year sales and service agreements to Penske. Instead, GM will gradually shutter the dealerships, "in accordance with the wind-down agreements that Saturn dealers recently signed with GM," the automaker said Wednesday. Details are expected to be announced soon. Penske had hoped to finalize an agreement with Renault, whose South Korean subsidiary Samsung was expected to produce the vehicles. He had met with Renault SA CEO Carlos Ghosn as well as Ghosn's No. 2 at Renault, Patrick Pelata, according to the source familiar with the negotiations.

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Aura Concept Unveiled to Workers at Fairfax Plant

Even though production of Saturn Aura sedan isn't scheduled to start until the summer of 2006, the company unveiled a concept version of the car to UAW workers at General Motors' Fairfax, Kansas assembly plant yesterday. Reaction to the new model was very positive. "We're excited about it," Dave Peterson, president of United Auto Workers Local 31, told the Associated Press.