Later tonight the giant ball in Times Square will be lowered when the clock strikes twelve and 2010 will come to an end. It's been a emotional year for Saturn employees, owners, and fans; October 31st marked the end of General Motors' grand Saturn experiment. Of all the news articles I've written for SaturnFans.com over the past 15 years, this one has been by far the hardest for me to write. Saying goodbye is never easy, and this time is no different. To me Saturn was more than just another car or company: it represented a fresh approach to running a business, and more significantly, it was a symbolic entry in America's ideological battle against the best vehicles the "import" car companies had to offer.
Jamie Lareau from Automotive News: Jill Lajdziak, who joined Saturn before its first car was sold and led the division through its demise last month, will retire from General Motors at the end of the year. Lajdziak, 52, will take vacation time until then, said spokesman John McDonald. In the interim, GM's Steve Hill, will coordinate the wind-down of the Saturn brand.
Of all the letters I have written this past year, this one is the most difficult. I want to begin by thanking all of you for your support over this last year. Your loyalty to Saturn motivated my team to work very hard to try to find a way for this brand to continue. The many e-mails, calls and personal notes provided the inspiration to all of us at Saturn. By now I'm sure you have heard that the sale of Saturn to the Penske Automotive Group could not be finalized. As a result, the Saturn brand will now be phased out over time.
Detroit Free Press: Penske to Close Saturn Deal Wednesday, Jill Lajdziak Said to be Retiring from GM
Tim Higgins from the Detroit Free Press: Detroit businessman and booster Roger Penske is on track to close a deal to buy General Motors' Saturn division on Wednesday, the Free Press learned today. The official announcement could come Thursday. Several signs point to a final deal soon: Jill Lajdziak, Saturn's general manager, has asked for an early retirement package from GM, an indication that she is leaving, a person familiar with her decision said.
Saturn's official owner magazine, Saturn 360, just published its first online-only issue. The new Summer 2009 edition virtually arrived yesterday when the company launched its brand new saturn360online.com website. The quarterly magazine sticks with the same people-focused formula that has been popular with readers since the magazine's first issue was printed almost four years ago.
Saturn has always been focused on building and developing personal relationships with its customers. In the video below, Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak explains how the brand's desire to maintain an open and honest dialogue led to the creation of "Ask Jill" in early June.
Saturn.com Now Lets You "Ask Jill" Questions About the Brand as the Company Expands its Web Presence
Saturn recently added a new feature to its website that allows visitors to pose questions directly to General Manager Jill Ladjziak. Some folks have already taken advantage of the opportunity. They've asked questions about Saturn's future, the impact any changes in ownership will have on their vehicle warranty, and who she rooted for during the Stanley Cup finals (well, maybe not that question). Keeping in close contact with customers is something Jill has always felt strongly about and excelled at doing. This new tool gives Jill and her team a way to communicate on a personalized level with owners and enthusiasts.
General Motors and Penske Automotive Group today confirmed details of a proposed transaction under which Penske would acquire the Saturn brand. If completed, the deal would save more than 350 dealerships and 13,000 jobs at Saturn and its retailers in the United States, and would preserve the customer-focused Saturn brand. The proposed transaction is part of GM's rebuilding efforts outlined in the viability plan that was submitted to the U.S. government earlier this year. Under the terms in the memorandum of understanding, Penske would obtain the rights to the brand as well as certain other Saturn assets.
From the Associated Press by way of the NYT: Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak said the brand, once billed as a different kind of car company, most likely will be sold, given the interest of several buyers who have surfaced. She says GM will take other bids for the brand until June 1.
Saturn's innovative social networking site, ImSaturn, turns one year old this month, and Saturn is celebrating with a look back on the site's accomplishments and an addictive twist on the childhood game Pin the Tail on the Saturn (betcha can't just play once). In a blog post, General Manager Jill Lajdziak said her team was "thrilled" when 1000 folks joined within the first three weeks. Today, the site boasts almost 5000 members.