Saturn's new owner, dealership group-owner Roger Penske, revealed during an interview his plans to make electric vehicles the focus of the Saturn brand under his ownership, and dispelled rumors that Saturn dealers may be forced to sell Smart-brand cars.
In an interview with AutoObserver's Michelle Krebs, Penske said the government's emphasis on funding alternative-powered vehicles may entice him to focus on electric vehicles for Saturn. "Electric vehicles will be right at the forefront," he said, adding that they "might be the first vehicles produced in the U.S." for Saturn.
Under the terms of Penske's deal with GM, the automaker will continue to produce the Aura, Outlook, and Vue for Saturn for at least the next three years. After that, Penske will be able to negotiate with the General to continue producing the models. Penske is also actively seeking other products to fill in Saturn's lineup, which will lose the Astra hatchback and Sky roadster.
Penske says that he'll "go around the world to see what products could be brought into this country," providing an estimate of about 12-18 months before those vehicles will make it into dealerships. Penske denies rumors concerning deals to import vehicles made by Renault or Samsung, saying he's been in talks with several automakers.
"We'll be up front about announcing any partnerships," he said.
Penske promises vehicles with fuel-efficiency, and says he's seeking out models that will serve the existing customer base. That includes a full model range with SUVs, coupes, and sedans, within the price range already in place for the Saturn brand.
Penske says he even wants to move production of foreign-made Saturn vehicles to the U.S. if volume increases sufficiently. He's aiming to return Saturn to selling 150,000 to 200,000 vehicles a year, after falling to less than 100,000 vehicles in recent years.
Penske also dismissed speculation that Saturn dealers would be forced to sell Smart brand cars. He told Krebs that Saturn showrooms absolutely will not sell Smart cars.
Source: Edmunds AutoObserver