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Saturn has officially been killed by GM after the Penske Automotive Group failed to secure a producer of the vehicles and the sale to Penske fell through.  (Source: Jalopnik)

The death will shut down 350 dealerships nationwide and will cost approximately 13,000 jobs. It also marks an embarrassment for Penske and a loss of sales revenue for GM.  (Source: MSNBC)

Saturn will largely be remembered for its "No Haggle" policy, its success in the early 90s, and its resurgence between 2000-2008 with new models like the 2007 Saturn Sky, pictured here.  (Source: Drag Times)
Saturn brand meets its demise when deal with the Penske Automotive Group falls through

There was a death to report yesterday in the automotive industry.  At only 24 years of age, the Saturn brand was officially laid to rest by GM.  The brand was always one of great ups and downs, but in the end a champion to save it failed to emerge.

The Saturn brand was officially formed in 1985 and the first cars rolled off the assembly line in 1990.  The brand projected a U.S. family-friendly image and produced high quality small vehicles to compete with Nissan, Honda, and Toyota imports.  Also popular was Saturn's famous "No Haggle" price policy.

However, the expenses of the vehicles' quality and that policy left the brand relatively unprofitable.  It is unclear if even at its greatest sales year it turned a profit.  As a result, GM didn't give it the product it needed to stay fresh, and it fell behind other brands in the 90s.  At the turn of the millennium GM tried to revitalize the brand, and it seemed to be working.  Customer interest in new models like the Saturn Vue, Ion, and Sky soon rose and the brand looked poised for a comeback.  Then the recession came.

Even its new vigor was not enough to outweigh its weakness in the late 90s and Saturn found itself among the many brands on GM's chopping block, along with Saab, Hummer, Vauxhall, Opel, and Pontiac.  Under government supervision, GM worked out a sale of Saturn to the Penske Automotive Group, founded by racing legend Roger Penske.  The group already owned 310 auto retailers, so it seemed a perfect fit for the brand

The deal was almost complete, but one major aspect remained unanswered -- who would produce the vehicles.  GM agreed to temporarily take on some of the design and engineering responsibilities and transition these task to Penske.  It also agreed to produce Saturn vehicles, but only until 2011.  Penske needed someone to take over production from GM.  Reportedly, Renault Samsung Motors Co., a South Korean subsidy of France's Renault motors which doesn't currently import in the U.S., was among of those considered to take on the task of producing of Saturn-branded vehicles abroad and then shipping them to the U.S.

The Boulogne Billancourt, France-based automaker wrote, "Renault has been in contact with Penske to supply cars, parts and technology to Saturn through an OEM agreement.  The conditions for an agreement have not been found."

At the end of the day, the mystery third-party producer pulled out when its board reportedly rejected the deal to produce Saturn vehicles.  This left Penske without a producer past 2011.  Penske terminated the deal and GM terminated Saturn.

The mood was a dismal one when the brand, beloved by many, was laid to rest.  With it goes 13,000 jobs, largely in Michigan, and 350 dealerships, which have until October 2010 to close.

GM expressed its disappointment with the development, with Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson stating, "This is very disappointing news and comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality."

Some analysts were shocked that GM let the deal collapse, losing the profit of the sale.  Stephen Spivey, an auto analyst with Frost & Sullivan in San Antonio, states, "I’m a little surprised that there was no plan B here.  It’s surprising to me that Penske had no idea that this might not be accepted."

Indeed, the loss could hurt GM's reputation, according to analysts.  GM also lacks a clear plan to salvage Saturn's hybrid technology and other important technologies from the brand.  For Penske it represents an embarrassing mar on the group's traditionally strong track record, which has included such successes as brokering a deal with Daimler as the exclusive import of Smart cars.

Many analysts are simply lamenting what could have been.  Rebecca Linland, an analyst at IHS Global Insight, states, "Saturn is the brand you wanted to like.  It is the little brand that could have and should have [been great]."

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RE: Thanks God!!
By TomZ on 10/1/2009 10:00:44 AM , Rating: 1
The main achievement that Saturn had was great marketing. The people who were buying those cars early on were practically brainwashed Saturn zombies. They thought Saturn cars were a breed apart from all others.

RE: Thanks God!!
By Manch on 10/1/2009 10:45:00 AM , Rating: 5
The main achievement that Apple has is great marketing. The people who are buying those I-Phones are practically brainwashed Apple zombies. They thought Apple products are a breed apart from all others.

Sorry, I couldn't resist

RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 10:57:11 AM , Rating: 5
Yup. Add Monster Cable and Bose to that list as well.

RE: Thanks God!!
By Mitch101 on 10/1/2009 12:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
You got to thank Bose and Monster Cable they help you identify those without a clue who have an identity crisis that try to brand themselves as better than others with the stuff they buy because they lack personality. Just my opinion.

RE: Thanks God!!
By Manch on 10/1/2009 12:53:11 PM , Rating: 3
Monster Cable is a rip off period. Bose while nice, they're just too damn expensive. You never find them on sale, ever.

RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 1:00:47 PM , Rating: 2 are confused. Bose products are not "nice" - they are sub-par compared to everything else on the market. The are worse than everything else.

RE: Thanks God!!
By quiksilvr on 10/1/2009 1:10:26 PM , Rating: 1
I wouldn't go THAT far. Their QuietComfort headphones are really great, but alas, they need to chop off $100 from it to be realistic.

RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 1:14:48 PM , Rating: 3
I would. There's a reason that Bose will not allow ANY qualified industry source, like an audiophile magazine, to review their products. Bose categorically will NOT let you review their products if you are qualified to do so. least, not without you just going and buying the product on your own and testing it. Which has been done a few times - to laughably awful result.

It's also the reason why Bose forbids retailers from placing their products anywhere near competitor's products...that way you can't make a direct comparison.

Find any qualified audio authority and ask them what they think.

RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 1:25:28 PM , Rating: 3

An oldie but a goodie. Just one example of WHY Bose doesn't want qualified people looking at their products. Also, at the bottom of that article is a bunch of links to various places on the internet populated by audiophiles.

RE: Thanks God!!
By Motoman on 10/1/2009 1:47:01 PM , Rating: 2

...also, notice that no Bose product, ever, has been THX certified. I'm pretty sure they've never bothered trying. When you know you are fail, no point in the attempt.

RE: Thanks God!!
By Manch on 10/1/2009 2:19:47 PM , Rating: 2
I got the quiet comfort headphones for 150$ new at the Lackland BX. THe BX/NEX stores are the only places i ever see them on sale. When you're flying from San Antonio to Misawa Japan on a regular basis those headphones are worth it. I got the virtual surround sound for the PC as a christmas present. My pops picked them up for 185$ at the NEX in Norfolk. Like I said, they're nice but just not at full price.

RE: Thanks God!!
By The0ne on 10/1/2009 2:17:51 PM , Rating: 3
Many people are so bought by the marketing and sales campaign/ads. My co-worker absolutely loves Bose and he's a freaking engineer. He knows better but his brain doesn't want to register.

I don't blame the mass consumers for this fault but rather the company. Of course there are those that should be blame for ignorance by continuing to support something they really don't know about. Apple fans I think might be the biggest. I count MS in there too but then again choices are limited due to applications, support, compatibility.

RE: Thanks God!!
By TechIsGr8 on 10/1/2009 12:37:16 PM , Rating: 5
Certainly off-topic, but I've been a DOS/PC/Windows guy since 1986. I just got my first Apple product a month ago, an iPhone 3GS 32GB, and I absolutely love it. I'm quite happy to be a new brainwashed Apple zombie, thanks very much.

RE: Thanks God!!
By kkwst2 on 10/1/2009 1:33:47 PM , Rating: 1
Well of course you are. You wouldn't be a brainwashed zombie if you weren't happy about it.

RE: Thanks God!!
By Mitch101 on 10/1/2009 2:49:07 PM , Rating: 2
I dont think anyone can deny that the iPhone is a nice piece of kit but the competition is closing in hard and fast and there are very few tricks Apple can implement with as much wow factor as they did when the iPhone launched. But its running out of steam even the Apple fans are starting to say so and if your a smart business you know that an iPhone is a problem waiting to happen. Sure it will get there but it wont happen soon enough. As a consumer device its still a great product holding its own for now.

The Storm 2, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile 6.5 and soon enough Windows Mobile 7. Plus a number of other products are coming. Many like to preach iPhone killer but there have been no real takers. None need to be an iPhone killer but each will take a bit of that iPhone market share away. I wouldn't be surprised if Google is looking to take a bite out of Apple too. Apple is not making many business friends. Or should I say Apple hasn't learned to swim with the sharks and because Apple hasn't been playing nice the sharks are starting to circle Apple. In the next 6 months your going to see a feeding frenzy.

I would say watch out for the Windows Mobile devices. Mobile phone manufacturers will make it cheaper than Apple will agree to sell devices for and Microsoft will drive the apps people want.

Blackberry software for Mac is not a recognition of Apple growth its a way of keeping Apple out of Blackberry's space. Now that you can get Blackberry for Mac those are people who wont be buying the iPhone. Zune HD for mac would be interesting.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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