California Autos Examiner

Saturday, May 23, 2009

WWPD? What would Penske do...If he bought Saturn?

Samsung eMX (SM3) concept

Now that GM has given its Saturn division walking papers, outside investors are trying to come up with creative ways to use the relatively well known and respected brand. One such investor is Roger Penske, a crafty creative retailer who brought the smart fortwo to the U.S. market. Penske has always been an intelligent businessman with his only real stumble being his failed alliance with Kmart to offer auto maintenance. Yeah, that didn't work so well.

Okay, so Penske is interested in Saturn. What would he do with it? Word on the street is that he'd sell Samsung cars and crossovers. It's not as outlandish as you might think. Samsung is largely owned by Renault -Nissan and uses corporate underpinnings for its vehicles. The corporate parts sharing should make the Samsung vehicles easily adaptable to US regulations. In the most basic sense, this would make these vehicles cut-rate Nissans. I say in the most basic sense because I'm sure there are those out there who would dig into the minutia and pick a fight with me on this analogy, but on the Internet you can find people to argue with you over just about anything. The pictured car (above) is essentially the 2010 SM3 with some auto show fluff on it. The 2010 SM3 is based on the Renault M├ęgane which was recently redesigned itself. Now of course I am only speculating that the SM3 would be one of the vehicles that Penske would offer here.

Another Samsung model that Penske might import would be the QM5. This crossover is related to the Renault Koleos, Nissan Qashqai and Nissan Rogue. While not a stunner, it's pleasant enough to look at and I'm sure it could sell in reasonable numbers at a the right price. There are two other Samsung models, the SM5 and SM7, both sedans based off the Nissan Teana.

Right now we're playing "what ifs" as nothing is finalized and there are other bidders for Saturn. However, out of all the interested parties that I know of, I'd trust Roger Penske and his team the most. Penske has a proven automotive retailing background with more hits than misses. If I were a Saturn dealer, I'd be rooting for Roger.

My only request of Mr. Penske? If you end up with the Saturn network, please give these vehicles a decent warranty and NOT a two year warranty like you currently offer on the smart. I doubt Mr. Penske would be foolish enough to undercut warranty coverage on mainstream cars like these, but I thought I'd throw it out there just in case anyone was getting ideas.

For more info: Visit Renault Samsung Motors website.

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