Virtual Car Company Idea Stalled

Joseph Szczesny from the Oakland Press: The theory of the virtual car company is a favorite concept of a lot of consultants and analysts that are part and parcel of the car business, not only in the U.S. but around the world. The idea draws a lot of its energy from the idea that a virtual company wouldn't need to have expensive engineering labs and assembly plants. Instead, they would belong to a supplier. In addition, the virtual company would limit the need to keep many expensive employees on the payroll and the "legacy" costs for pensions and health care benefits, leaving more money for critical things like executive bonuses and, of course, very lucrative contracts — or so the theory goes anyway. Last spring, Roger Penske, one of the most respected men in the car business and the founder of the industry's largest chain of auto dealers, the Penske Automotive Group of Bloomfield Hills, set out to create what might have become a virtual car company by utilizing General Motors' Saturn. Penske, of course, is immensely successful. But the reasons he is immensely successful is because he is pragmatic and disciplined. He also decided, rather quickly, that the current environment was quite right for a virtual car company. If Penske couldn't make it the idea work, I doubt anyone can.

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General Motors Employee Pricing Sale Extended to September 30th; 2009 Aura, Outlook, and Sky Added to the Program

Saturn Employee Pricing Logo

General Motors announced today that the company will extend it's popular 100th anniversary employee pricing sale until the end of September. The sale "helped drive additional showroom traffic and our dealers are giving us some very enthusiastic feedback," said Mark LaNeve, vice president of GM North America Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing. "We had our best sales month so far in 2008." As a result, he said GM "added 19 additional 2009 models to the eligible list of vehicles because our 2008 stock on dealer lots is rapidly disappearing." Among the 2009 models added today were the Saturn Aura sedan, Outlook crossover, and Sky roadster.