Below a partial transcript detailing comments made by Roger Penske pertaining to his failed acquisition of the Saturn brand during the Penske Automotive Group's (PAG) third quarter 2009 earnings call held this past Friday, October 30th.
Sharon Terlep from the Dow Jones Newswires: Auto magnate Roger Penske believed he was taking over General Motors' Saturn brand until the very last moments, when France's Renault shocked both Penske and GM by backing out of an agreement to provide vehicles. Penske addressed the failed deal Friday as he announced Penske Automotive Group's quarterly financial results.
Bryan Lavoilette from Michigan Live: Don't be surprised if General Motors' deal with Penske Automotive is back on within the next week or two. Penske backed out of its plans with GM to buy the ringed-planet brand when the automaker which was going to build its cars nixed the deal.
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.
David Booth from the National Post: So, Saturn is no more. One more bastion of the U.S. auto empire sinks into the quicksand that has been The Great Recession. Its would-be saviour, Roger Penske, has pulled out of the deal quite dramatically one day prior to taking over the "Saturn Homecoming" brand.
Dan Gearino from the Columbus Dispatch via the Boston Herald: The toughest part for Saturn fans was the suddenness. For months, Penske Automotive Group worked on plans to buy the Saturn brand from General Motors. And then, in an instant last week, the deal evaporated. Saturn is now slated to wind down over the next year. "We were caught off guard as much as everyone," said Steve Whitman of Clintonville, vice president of the Central Ohio Saturn Car Club. Penske walked away from the deal after being unable to find a manufacturer to make Saturns after a contract with GM runs out in 2011. There's been no word on another buyer emerging.
Don Hammonds from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: When Rikki Kirchner of Santa Clarita, California, heard that Saturn was going out of business, she marched out to her Saturn Astra and ripped the General Motors emblems right off the car. "I know a guy who did that too. Heck, Saturn's an orphan right now, and it's a sad day," she said.
From the Detroit News: Prospects for GM's Saturn division dimmed with the Penske Automotive Group's failed bid to keep the nameplate's dealer network alive. But the division's problems began long before GM's bankruptcy and downsizing. GM management and the United Auto Workers union both sabotaged the ideas behind Saturn. The division began as a model for regaining market share from Japanese automakers, improving dealer service and reforming labor practices. With collaboration and more flexible work rules, a no-pressure dealer sales strategy and a peppier product made in a Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, Saturn could have helped spread reforms to other GM brands.
Lindsay Chappell from Automotive News: Saturn dealers woke up last Thursday morning to the grim reality that their brand was dead, Roger Penske was not going to save them and General Motors Co. planned to compensate them with between $100,000 and $1 million per store to close by next October. Once known as the most satisfied retail network in the industry, Saturn dealers fumed.
Peter Brown from Automotive News: At 75, Saturn megadealer Don Hudler figures he's going to stick with the brand till the fat lady sings. "We're diehards. We'll probably go to the bitter end," Hudler, the former chairman of Saturn Corp., said last week after the shocking news that Roger Penske's deal to buy the Saturn brand had collapsed.