- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009

The General Motors Co. has reached a tentative agreement to sell its Saturn brand to the Penske Automotive Group, the companies said Friday.

The deal would keep open more than 350 Saturn dealerships and save 13,000 jobs in the United States.

General Motors filed for bankruptcy Monday despite receiving billions of dollars of federal assistance, succumbing to competitive pressures and years of losses exacerbated by an 18-month recession.

The company collapsed during the 18-month recession despite receiving billions from the federal government. GM officials hope to emerge from the government-directed bankruptcy within 90 days and have been looking for ways to avoid closing dealerships and more employees losing jobs.

“The proposed transaction is part of GM’s rebuilding efforts outlined in the viability plan that was submitted to the U.S. government earlier this year,” the company said.

General Motors will initially produce the Saturn Aura sedan and the Vue and Outlook sport utility vehicles on a contract basis.

“We have agreed upon a framework that we believe will build momentum for the Saturn brand,” said company Chairman Roger Penske.

General Motors, the world’s biggest automaker, has sold more than 4 million Saturns since 1990, but the line has never been profitable. The company is the second of the country’s Big Three to file for bankruptcy.

Chrysler LLC filed for bankruptcy April 30.

Ford Motor Co. is the only one of the three that did not receive a government bailout or file for bankruptcy.

GM and Saturn expect the deal to be completed after September but provided no additional details, including the selling price.

Penske Automotive Group Inc. runs 310 dealership franchises around the world, representing 40 different brands, and 25 collision-repair centers. The company also distributes the fuel-efficient Smart fortwo car, made by the Daimler AG Company.

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