Report: Penske Likely to Buy Saturn

Robert Snell from the Detroit News: A group headed by Detroit auto tycoon Roger Penske is the likely buyer of the Saturn brand and dealer network. "Negotiations are literally going around the clock and we hope to have something to announce soon, but there is nothing to announce today," Saturn spokesman Steve Janisse said. The Saturn negotiations involve pairing parties interested in Saturn's dealer network with one or more auto manufacturers interested in supplying vehicles that could be sold under the Saturn name. Saturn had narrowed the list of potential bidders from about 12 to "two or three," according to a source familiar with the talks. At least one of the finalists is considering using Mitsubishi, and possibly others manufacturers, to provide vehicles. Penske could form a venture with Nissan, the Japanese affiliate of Renault.

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Flashback Friday: How Saturn Built a Brand

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Saturn launched its lineup of compact sedans and coupes in the fall of 1990 as an relatively unknown and untested manufacturer of "a different kind of car." The Saturn team did the impossible by implementing a set of strategies that included building quality vehicles and crafting an intriguing message that attracted car buyers who had written off domestic cars long ago. That was no small feat. In his book, "Building Strong Brands," author David Aaker set out to "not only to describe what was done but also to suggest the logic behind the strategies: why they were pursued, and how they were intended to contribute to the brand." He concluded that "although certainly some elements of the Saturn strategy may have been critical, it was the synergy of the total program rather than the power of any single element - that led to its success."