Penske Automotive Group, Inc – a U.S. auto retailer and franchiser - has reached a preliminary agreement to obtain the Saturn auto brand from bankrupt automaker General Motors Corp, the companies said Friday. Financial details were not disclosed.
GM, which this week sold the Hummer off-road vehicle brand to Chinese company Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd, has decided to re-emerge from bankruptcy as a smaller company. The deal will save 350 dealerships and 13,000 jobs at Saturn and its U.S. retailers, GM said.
The transaction if completed would let Penske acquire the brand, and assets including Saturn parts inventory as well as the right to distribute vehicles and parts through the Saturn Dealership network.
We have agreed upon a framework that we believe will build momentum for the Saturn brand, said Penske Chairman Roger Penske. Saturn has a passionate customer base and outstanding dealer network. For nearly 20 years Saturn has focused on treating the customer right. We share that philosophy, and we want to build on those strengths.
GM said it would continue to build the brand’s Aura, Vue and Outlook vehicle models on a contract basis, for an unspecified interim period.
Previously, GM said it would stop producing cars for the brand in 2011 if no buyer could be found or if a spinoff of the company was not found.
Under a viability plan approved by the U.S. government, which will become the principal owner of the automaker, GM will only keep its Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick brands. It has decided to shut down its Pontiac brand and has reached initial agreements to sell its Opel/Vauxhall brands in Europe.