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Some Saturn Owners, Retailers Have a Special Relationship with Vanishing Brand

2005 Vue Red Line at Saturn/West in Columbus, Ohio

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.

Retailers Quietly Mark the End of an Era

New Saturn Flagship Store in Danbury, Connecticut

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.

Saturn: A Car Relic and History Left Behind

Ken Newton from St. Joseph News-Press: General Motors, feeling the pinch of foreign imports, dangled the idea of opening a new plant to build a "revolutionary" car. Such a factory would employ 6,000 people while also creating 15,000 jobs in supporting businesses. Workers there would not only have the benefit of a paycheck, they would stand, shoulder-to-shoulder, at the vanguard of a new era of American industrial might. Perhaps to seem egalitarian, or more likely to create buzz and cajole some incentives, GM executives offered the pending plant to interested states, hoping they would compete for the car company's affections.

Editorial: Saturn Fell Prey to GM, UAW Bungling

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.

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.

Don Hudler: "I Didn’t Expect to Finish this Way"

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.

Retailers, Owners Shocked Over End of Saturn

Steve Manning from the Associated Press via MSNBC: Charlie Eickmeyer says he was a fan of Saturn vehicles years before he was able to drive. Today he's in shock. "It seemed like the deal was going through," said Eickmeyer, 34, who started following Saturn when he was 10 years old and now runs a Web site for enthusiasts of the brand.

Report: GM Stopped Production of all Saturns Last Thursday

David Thomas from Cars.com: Current owners' warranties are still fully backed by GM and will be serviced by other GM brand dealerships — Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick. As of September 1, Saturn's total inventory was 14,700 units, according to Automotive News data. Saturn representatives say there is an inventory of 12,000 vehicles on dealer lots and in transit.

John McElroy: Why Saturn Failed

John McElroy from Autoline Detroit via AutoBlog: In the early 1980s General Motors launched a top-secret program to figure out how it could build a small car to successfully compete against the Japanese automakers. It was called the S-car program and the results of this study shocked top management at GM. It conclusively proved General Motors could not profitably build a small car in the United States that was priced against the Japanese — at least not under the current GM system. And that launched another study to figure out what it would take become competitive. GM concluded that it needed a clean-sheet approach to designing, engineering, manufacturing and retailing small cars in the American market. In other words, it needed a whole new car company.

Farewell to Saturn’s Utopian Dream

Pam Platt from the Courier Journal: It wasn't just the new-car smell that made me want to swoon when I went to the Saturn dealership. It was exactly as my friend said: Nice people, no games, really nice cars, good prices. The Saturn salesman went a mile better than smacking the car seat and ordering me to sit. He let me drive the wagon for a couple of days so I could see how I liked it.

Random Article from the SaturnFans.com Archives

General Motors, Penske Outline Proposed Deal for Purchase of Saturn

Saturn Logo

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.