GM’s Saturn brand to finally end its tortured life

By Daily Maverick Legacy 2 October 2009

General Motors CEO, Fritz Henderson, has announced that, after The Penske Automotive Group had to abandon a deal to buy Saturn cars, its youngest brand is falling on its sword. Penske Group, famous for successful turnarounds, couldn’t close the deal with the third-party manufacturing partner, rumoured to be Renault-Nissan group. Created in 1985 as part of GM’s attempt to fight the flood of cheap, small, well-made Japanese cars, Saturn enjoyed initial success. But not for long. In the early 1990s, as part of a cost-cutting drive, Saturn’s research and development shared costs and planning with GM’s other divisions. Albeit a reasonable step from an accounting point of view at the time, this robbed Saturn of any distinctive personality and viable outlook. The futures of 13,000 employees and 350 dealerships remain unknown.

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