Penske Might Buy Saturn

Automotive News reports that Roger Penske is interested in buying Saturn from General Motors.

My pal Jamie LaReau, a reporter at Automotive News, just published a short piece in their online edition indicating that Roger Penske is interested in buying the Saturn brand, including of course its dealership agreements, from General Motors. This is exciting news.

Roger Penske is like Midas. Everything he touches turns to gold, whether it’s his many hugely successful racing teams, his ownership of Detroit Diesel Corporation, or his vast network of car dealerships covering many brands. He is a very wise and astute businessman, especially when it comes to anything having to do with the retail automotive sector, so his interest in Saturn underscores the fact that Saturn, despite its years of neglect at GM (prior to the current lineup of very good cars), is one helluva brand.

A lot of people who buy Saturns have only the vaguest idea that their cars are made by GM, and they are very loyal to the brand. My old friend Ben Johnson had a ratty old Saturn SL1 sedan that he basically drove into the ground. When it finally gave up the ghost about a year and a half ago, there was no question in Ben’s mind that he would buy another Saturn, and he did: an Aura. He liked the dealership treatment, he doesn’t really care about cars, and the Aura was, you know, like a Cadillac by comparison with his old SL.

What I’m saying is that Saturn is arguably the least tainted brand in GM’s portfolio. If GM goes bankrupt, a wise man like Penske could scoop up the Saturn brand and all of its residual goodwill from the highly effective 1990s marketing campaigns, source good cars from a variety of automakers (everyone in the world has excess capacity, after all), and make a killing just as soon as this economy rebounds.