While the list of potential buyers for GM’s Saturn brand has been whittled down to just a few prospects, the issue of who will supply vehicles to the dealer network once GM relinquishes control is just starting to heat up. While potential Saturn buyer Penske reportedly is in talks with Nissan for the job, another Japanese company issaid to beinterested in selling its vehicles throughits network: Mitsubishi.
The Detroit News is reporting that sources familiar with negotiations have said Mitsubishi is in talks to supply its vehicles to Saturn dealers if the network is sold this year. It is not known at this time if the vehicles would be sold under the Saturn or Mitsubishi names.
Mitsubishi, which currently has about 430 dealers in the U.S., would stand to gain broader exposure to the U.S. market by picking up Saturn’s 380 dealerships. The fifth-largest Japanese automaker has been hit particularly hard by the recession, with sales down a whopping 50.6 percent for the year through April compared to last year — more than any other Japanese automaker selling in the U.S except Suzuki. Last month, Mitsubishi sold just 3919 vehicles – a decline of almost 56 percent compared with April 2008.
A Mitsubishi spokesman told the Detroit News he was unaware of the company’s talks with Saturn.