Wind-Down Terms Anger Saturn Retailers

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. "That's a small amount of money after all we've done," snapped Gordon Walker, who owns six Saturn stores in the Chicago area. "We'll probably sue them. We probably won't win, but that's not the point. They've really hung us out to dry. I just spent $700,000 putting up the new signage they asked for." Other dealers privately told Automotive News that they intend to challenge GM's cash offer. GM executives told the brand's approximately 350 dealers last week via a phone conference that they would receive a fourth of their wind-down money immediately and the rest when they close their stores. "It's better than nothing. But is it enough?" asks Michael Schramm of Saturn of Glenview in Illinois. "Of course it isn't. I've got $3.7 million tied up in real estate."

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For 2009, General Motors offers 18 models in the U.S. that get 30 miles per gallon on the highway, more than is expected of any other automaker. They include cars, crossovers and SUVs from GM’s Saturn, Chevrolet, and Pontiac brands. GM is not only poised to lead the industry again this year, but it also leads in subcompact and midsize non-hybrid car segments.