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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Former Chrysler Executives Involved in Bidder Efforts to Save Saturn

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Last week, Penske Automotive Group disclosed to the media that it had secured former Chrysler President, Tom LaSorda, as an advisor for the deal. Similar news was unveiled yesterday by Telesto Ventures. The investor group has hired a team of advisors which are all, oddly enough, former executives at Chrysler. According to Telesto's CEO, John Pappanastos, "The Saturn brand has the opportunity to serve a significant role in transforming the auto industry. We have carefully selected a team of proven innovators who not only bring powerful thinking to the table, but also the critical execution skills that have enabled us to make significant progress in such a short amount of time."