Home > Life > Penske Automotive Group (PAG) has decided to terminate discussions with General Motors to acquire Saturn

Penske Automotive Group (PAG) has decided to terminate discussions with General Motors to acquire Saturn

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I’m sure most everyone who cares about it has heard, Penske has decided not to buy Saturn due to not being able to source cars after the initial agreement with GM. I am personally shocked by this. Until today, I was responsible for Social Media, Accessories, and Licensing for Saturn, but had decided to take the buyout that was offered to me and move on to other opportunities. The sale seemed like a done a deal. My former co-workers were tweeting about today being their last day with GM and looking forward to starting with Penske tomorrow. Yesterday the press was predicting the sale would close today. The General Manager of Saturn announced her retirement from GM earlier this week. Everything seemed to be in place.

I don’t think you can blame Penske, after all, he’s an incredibly successful business man who’s made billions on just this type of investment. If anyone could have made it work, it was probably him. I was, however, worried about whether he really ‘got’ the brand, due to the lack of Marketing and Advertising staff that were asked to join the new company. I looked like he was planning on advertising and marketing Saturn like he does Smart and the Auto Group, which appears to be non-existent. The A/M staff at Saturn was responsible for, along with mainstream advertising, all of the network wide touchy-feely initiatives that made Saturn the unique brand that it was.

Saturn has an almost cult like following of owners, and to some extent retailers, who often don’t act like other auto dealers despite being, well, auto dealers. The sales, and especially the customer satisfaction lessons learned by GM during the Saturn experiment should be put to use by GM, or any other auto brand that wants to create that kind of loyalty in their customers. After all, they weren’t the best looking or highest quality cars ever made, which seems to be what everyone says is what creates owner loyalty and produces sales. What they did have was a feeling by the customer that the brand and the retailers actually cared about them and really wanted to do the best by them. Saturn is proof that positive customer experience can trump almost any other attribute your brand has.

My thoughts go out to my former co-workers, and all of the loyal owners and retailers that stood by the brand during these difficult times. I sincerely hope everyone lands on their feet and that the lessons learned from this once great brand resurface in all GM brands in the very near future. Hey, I can hope…

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