How Roger Penske Is Going To Fix Saturn

roger penske

We’ve spent billions of dollars stabalizing the American auto industry, but it is still uncertain how the industry will right itself.

General Motors plans on being more responsive to customers, more nimble, and more environmentally friendly. Ford is selling off brands, slimming down and focusing as well. Chrysler will unveil its plan in November.

While each of the Big Three is trying to restructure themselves, it appears as though it’s mostly a tightening of the old business model. Roger Penske, who bought Saturn from GM has plans for a whole new way of operating:

New York Times: He envisioned Saturn as a larger version of the business model he first set up last year for Smart, the little, egg-shaped commuter car that Daimler, the German automaker, manufactures. With Smart, Mr. Penske assumed control of all aspects of sales, marketing and service, and contracted with Daimler only for production of the cars.

Saturn will theoretically work the same way, with G.M. supplying vehicles for a brief interlude while Mr. Penske acts as the middle man between the factory and the independently owned Saturn stores.

“This is a distribution business, not a manufacturing business,” Mr. Penske told auto analysts in a conference call in late July. “So, it’s similar to what we have at Smart.”

GM will be selling Penske three Saturn models for two years as he sorts through the business. There’s no telling that it will work, but at least it’s something new.

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