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Old 08-03-2009, 09:48 PM   #1
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Default Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Compan

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Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Company

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Angus MacKenzie from Motor Trend: Auto plants cost staggering amounts of money to build and to run. And in an era where the manufacturing process no longer delivers major differentiators in terms of the finished product - all vehicles have to meet similar safety and fuel economy mandates, and the cost and quality differences between the best and the worst are getting smaller all the time - that's money many auto industry insiders wished they no longer had to spend. Which is why Roger Penske's Saturn play is a stroke of genius.

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Old 08-03-2009, 10:46 PM   #2
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

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Penske's Saturn doesn't own a single factory, design studio, or proving ground. What it does own - and all it needs to own - is the intellectual property of the Saturn brand. Saturn could simply rebadge another manufacturer's existing model, paying for U.S. market certification costs and minor cosmetic changes, or it could commission an automaker to design, engineer and manufacture a complete new vehicle. Either way, it could bring new models to market for way less capital cost than a traditional automaker.
wow, that sounds exciting... not. I can see it now... "is that the new Saturn?" "uh... sorta. it's a re-badged Renault Samsung SM3" "Renault? Samsung? I thought Samsung made televisions?" "uh..."

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Old 08-03-2009, 11:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

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wow, that sounds exciting... not. I can see it now... "is that the new Saturn?" "uh... sorta. it's a re-badged Renault Samsung SM3" "Renault? Samsung? I thought Samsung made televisions?" "uh..."
You seem very optimistic...not. LOL

Actually, I don't think alot of folks will know the difference and the majority of potential customers won't care. The product is different from anything else, and not a rebadged car that someone else already sells here. I think this is a good strategy. If someone else offers the same/very similar product that's going to hinder your sales.

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Old 08-04-2009, 07:29 AM   #4
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

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You seem very optimistic...not. LOL

Actually, I don't think alot of folks will know the difference and the majority of potential customers won't care. The product is different from anything else, and not a rebadged car that someone else already sells here. I think this is a good strategy. If someone else offers the same/very similar product that's going to hinder your sales.
Do you mean, like the Saab "brand"? GM turn them into a joke.

Count me as not optimistic. My buying of a saturn WAS a patriotic thing for me.

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Old 08-04-2009, 07:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

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It's hard to imagine a more perfect candidate to become a post-modern auto company than Saturn. Envisioned by GM chairman Roger B. Smith as an import fighter because of advanced manufacturing techniques that included a highly automated plant and plastic body panels, Saturn succeeded not because the original car was good -- actually, it wasn't even remotely competitive with anything from Toyota or Honda -- but because it was cleverly sold and marketed.
Am I the only one who's tired of the revisionnism surrounding the S-series? Every contemporary review or comparison said it was highly competitive at the time with Toyota's and Honda's offerings, Consumer Reports even selected it as their best small car one year. But nowadays every wannabe auto journalist says how it was so uncompetitive with the Japanese cars of the day.

Did the marketing help its success? No doubt, but marketing would have failed had the car been so bad as they pretend it was. I suggest they go back and read what their colleague auto journalists said about the car in the time before they go around telling about how bad the s-series was.

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Old 08-04-2009, 08:57 AM   #6
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

Sival:That's not revisionism that's combatting the myth that Saturn boosters like to promote that some how it reinvented the automobile.

They're trying to balance the story by dismantling the myth that the S Series were some kind of "wunderkar" on the order of the Model T and the VW Beetle.

Car and Driver said that Saturn almost met it's target. And that's where it stayed.

By 1996 CR was recommending the Cavalier [reworked for 95] and not the Saturn S Series.

The S was lengineered in the mid 80s and sold until 2002 as essentially the same car. And the Japanese imports went through several generations in that time, each getting better than the last.

The S Series was "highly competitive" with Japanese cars designed in the 80s and available in the early 90s. After that it was left behind in fit, finish, NVH and becoming known for it's love of motor oil and other, say, unique characteristics.

The S Series:Good, simple cars, honestly sold. Nothing wrong with that. Something to be proud of. I love mine, but does it nothing better than my 86 Olds Calais did or my 99 Cavalier.

Saturn was not the second coming of the automobile.

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Old 08-04-2009, 09:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

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Originally Posted by Citation84 View Post
Sival:That's not revisionism that's combatting the myth that Saturn boosters like to promote that some how it reinvented the automobile.

They're trying to balance the story by dismantling the myth that the S Series were some kind of "wunderkar" on the order of the Model T and the VW Beetle.

Car and Driver said that Saturn almost met it's target. And that's where it stayed.

By 1996 CR was recommending the Cavalier [reworked for 95] and not the Saturn S Series.

The S was lengineered in the mid 80s and sold until 2002 as essentially the same car. And the Japanese imports went through several generations in that time, each getting better than the last.

The S Series was "highly competitive" with Japanese cars designed in the 80s and available in the early 90s. After that it was left behind in fit, finish, NVH and becoming known for it's love of motor oil and other, say, unique characteristics.

The S Series:Good, simple cars, honestly sold. Nothing wrong with that. Something to be proud of. I love mine, but does it nothing better than my 86 Olds Calais did or my 99 Cavalier.

Saturn was not the second coming of the automobile.
Never said it was a second coming. This journalist and others like him don't say only that the Saturn S-series wasn't the best car ever, they say it wasn't even remotely competitive. They're basically saying it was crap from day one. That's not correct by a long shot, critics from that time say it was really near the top of the small cars sold at the time, near or at the level of Toyota and Honda. It's only in later years when it failed to be refereshed mechanically that it then became uncompetitive. Even in 2000, Car and Driver did a comparo of a lot of small cars, and the Saturn sl2 was considered better than the Echo and slightly worse than the Prizm (rebadged Corolla). See http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...mparison_tests

BTW, according to this, the Saturn S-series was recommended by Consumer Reports from 1992 to 1995 and it topped the list of recommended small cars in 1993.

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Old 08-04-2009, 01:32 PM   #8
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Attention Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

I recall the L-Series garnering very good reviews when it came out and being named Motorweek's best midsize car in their Driver's Choice awards. Unfortunately the L-Series, like the S-Series, was allowed to wither on the vine while the competition improved and left them in a cloud of dust.

As for Penske creating a brand new, post-modern car company, let's wait and see what he offers before crowning him a genius.

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Old 08-04-2009, 01:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

I would much rather have a 2000 SL2 than a 2000 Corolla. I had one as a rental car in 2001 and it was the biggest pile of junk I've ever driven, a saturn would out perform it in every single way.

On the original article I doubt that I would buy a rebadged Renault. They don't have the best record for building quality cars, and I would much rather buy an American car. It would be nice to provide a few more jobs here in the states where national unemployment is over 10%.

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Old 08-04-2009, 03:34 PM   #10
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

Call me pessimistic, but I just don't see how people can call this genius or get excited over it. "Oh, you mean all the new Saturn's are going to be just rebadged foreign cars?!?" Give me a break. I have and always will love Saturn.. And I will always maintain the point of view that it was highly competitive with the imports. But if Roger Penske just wants to rebadge cars, he better keep Saturn a domestic company.. Otherwise, I won't be buying one past the model year when this change takes place. With talks like this sometimes I can't help but wish that they would just discontinue Saturn like they did with Oldsmobile and will be doing with Pontiac.. That way it could go out with some dignity and we could remember how great it was; not look around and see a bunch of Samsung and Renault cars driving around with Saturn emblems (which in the long run I don't think will make Saturn last as a company anyway).

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Old 08-04-2009, 04:47 PM   #11
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

I can hear the nails being hammered into Saturn's coffin right now. This has got the be the stupidest thing that I've heard from the industry about Saturn thus far.

Maybe Penske is a genius for buying the Saturn name to turn a quick profit with cheap cars

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Old 08-04-2009, 06:49 PM   #12
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

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Originally Posted by Citation84 View Post
Sival:That's not revisionism that's combatting the myth that Saturn boosters like to promote that some how it reinvented the automobile.

They're trying to balance the story by dismantling the myth that the S Series were some kind of "wunderkar" on the order of the Model T and the VW Beetle.

Car and Driver said that Saturn almost met it's target. And that's where it stayed.

By 1996 CR was recommending the Cavalier [reworked for 95] and not the Saturn S Series.

The S was lengineered in the mid 80s and sold until 2002 as essentially the same car. And the Japanese imports went through several generations in that time, each getting better than the last.

The S Series was "highly competitive" with Japanese cars designed in the 80s and available in the early 90s. After that it was left behind in fit, finish, NVH and becoming known for it's love of motor oil and other, say, unique characteristics.

The S Series:Good, simple cars, honestly sold. Nothing wrong with that. Something to be proud of. I love mine, but does it nothing better than my 86 Olds Calais did or my 99 Cavalier.

Saturn was not the second coming of the automobile.
Might I add that the one that did the most damage was not Honda and Toyota but that lowly little Hyundai Elantra, which has improved with each generation. It's right up there with the Civic, Mazda3 and next-gen Focus as standard bearers in the compact car segment.

The reason Saturn was left behind in fit and finish and NVH toward the end of the S-Series' life cycle was because of one word - profit. John Smith used this as justification for his decision to hold back money for Saturn in the mid/late '90s when the company wanted to develop a people-mover (along the lines of the CV1) and a six-cylinder SL3 model.

With respect to Motor Trend and Angus McKenzie, I wouldn't call this a stroke of genius so much as a second chance for Saturn, since under Penske Automotive, it won't have to deal with Chevy constantly horning in at the resource trough. If Roger Penske can get Saturn into the black and keep it there continuously, then it's clear that the problem lay at the RenCen's doorstep with the old GM's upper management.


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Old 08-04-2009, 07:55 PM   #13
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

It's becoming painfully clear that Penske is going to use Saturn's retail facilities to sell whatever imported products he can re-badge as a Saturn.

Lately Jill Lajdziak has been unusually quiet... She must be "Re-Thinking" a new ad campaign how she's going to convince Saturn owners to buy a non-US manufactured car.

The Samsung cars are Korean built and heavily based on Nissan models. Two are based on the Maxima/Altima chassis, and one based on the Sentra chassis. IMO Samsung cars have similar quality and performance a Daewoo car.

IMO they will be a few clicks below the class leading cars from Honda and Toyota. They will be just "good enough". Deja vu...

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Old 08-05-2009, 04:01 AM   #14
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Sad Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

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Do you mean, like the Saab "brand"? GM turn[ed] them into a joke.

Count me as not optimistic. My buying of a saturn WAS a patriotic thing for me.
I've got to agree. Saturns used to turn out from my home state. I even played (and beat) the Spring Hill HS football team, in a then-new stadium built by 5-yr old Saturn/GM tax dollars.

I hoping to find an e-mail address where I could write a generic "PLEEEEASE buy the Spring Hill factory" letter, or convince him that the Shelby/Tipton/Fayette County area in SW Tennessee is an excellent place to build a new Penske/Saturn auto assembly plant.

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Old 08-05-2009, 08:22 AM   #15
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

Every Saturn owner would like nothing better than for Penske to buy Spring Hill and start production on a small car and small CUV.

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Old 08-05-2009, 08:49 AM   #16
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

It certainly looks like this is not getting Saturn owners excited. If we don't get excited, think about the average consumer out there who does not even know what a Saturn is.
PENSKE: BUILD A QUALITY CAR IN THE US or you're going to end up just like the current Saturn.....wait, maybe I should take that back. After all, uncle Sam will bail them out and give them bonuses for failing....

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Old 08-05-2009, 09:23 AM   #17
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

I too fondly reminisce about what was once an American Car - engineered, built, and sold in America. However, for an American company to compete in a world market, it has to play in a world market. There is some merit to what Penske is doing. I work in manufacturing (machinist). What constantly drives efficiency in our company (we also supply to several automotive manufacturers) is the fact that we are only one vendor among many who competes for contracts to sell product to their company. The automotive industry has historically always owned the manufacturing, engineering, distribution, and sales networks. The only pressure toward efficiency they felt was the limited competition that existed between the few surviving big car companies, and the import market cleaned our clocks on that. Penske is trying to introduce the same market pressures to worldwide auto manufacturers that other branches of manufacturing have had to deal with for years. Whether he has the clout to do that remains to be seen.

Years ago, companies like Sears, Roebuck, and Co., Montgomery Ward, etc. built huge empires because they owned the sales and distribution networks, and bought exclusive rights to sell goods from selected manufacturers. Companies like David Bradley and others grew exponentially under this symbiotic relationship. We all know what happened to Sears and Wards, but the foreign market played a large part in dissolving their empires as well. What if Penske can use the advantages of his newly-owned market share to force manufacturers worldwide to compete to sell product, made to 'Saturn' specifications, in a Saturn (Penske) owned market? Roger Penske did not arrive at his station in life through naivety. He has proven track record (pun intended) in business. He's a smart guy.

The fortunes in today's business world are mostly made by owning brands, not manufacturing facilities. Good for Roger. What remains to be seen is how it will be good for the American consumer. Think Wal-mart -- great idea and company under Sam Walton. Now that Sam has gone, public opinion is failing (for reasons we all know). What kind of company will Roger make of Saturn? We all know that Roger will make money on this. The survival of his newly owned 'brand' depends on consumer opinion of his product. The question is, does he want the brand to survive, or just Roger to survive?

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Old 08-05-2009, 10:19 AM   #18
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Thumbs Down Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

There has been alot skepticism being thrown around in this thread about Penske's goals for Saturn and I must admit I share alot of people's concerns. IMO the only thing Roger has in mine for Saturn is to use the dealerships as a distribution point for whatever 'flavor of the month' he decides to sell. As I mentioned in another thread I'm not enamored with any of Samsung's or Renault's vehicles. I've been actively looking for replacements for my SL2 in the next couple years and judging by the initial looks neither Samsung nor Renault would be cross shopped on my list no matter what badge they displayed. If I had my pick I would've chosen Citroen over either two car companies previously named.

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Old 08-06-2009, 05:40 AM   #19
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

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It certainly looks like this is not getting Saturn owners excited. If we don't get excited, think about the average consumer out there who does not even know what a Saturn is.
PENSKE: BUILD A QUALITY CAR IN THE US or you're going to end up just like the current Saturn.....wait, maybe I should take that back. After all, uncle Sam will bail them out and give them bonuses for failing....
Actually, the average auto buyer won't care. As long as the product is good and the price is right people will buy.

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Old 08-06-2009, 07:37 AM   #20
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Default Re: Roger Penske's Saturn Play is a Stroke of Genius, Creates a "Post-Modern" Auto Co

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Originally Posted by Sival View Post
Never said it was a second coming. This journalist and others like him don't say only that the Saturn S-series wasn't the best car ever, they say it wasn't even remotely competitive. They're basically saying it was crap from day one. That's not correct by a long shot, critics from that time say it was really near the top of the small cars sold at the time, near or at the level of Toyota and Honda. It's only in later years when it failed to be refereshed mechanically that it then became uncompetitive. Even in 2000, Car and Driver did a comparo of a lot of small cars, and the Saturn sl2 was considered better than the Echo and slightly worse than the Prizm (rebadged Corolla). See http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...mparison_tests

BTW, according to this, the Saturn S-series was recommended by Consumer Reports from 1992 to 1995 and it topped the list of recommended small cars in 1993.
And by 1995 it was pretty much over. That was 14 years ago. 1993 even further back. That's where they stayed. And rotted, in the grand GM tradition of it's small cars.

Don't get me wrong: these cars were honest, reliable, sold fairly and with enthusiasm and one could hardly get past the thought and energy and optimism with which they were designed and built. And they were cleverly sold and became beloved by their owners.

The replacement ION and the L Series were: take engine from column A a platform from column B, transmission from column C. People fell in live with the s Series because it was built to a purpose and an ideal not a set of specs cooked up my some GM Central bean counter.

The affection I felt for the S series was immediate. The ION had to grow on me. Big difference.

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