Roger Penske’s organization is bringing a new way to sell cars, according to USA Today. Everybody is excited about it. Except me, of course.
GM will probably insist that they use their chassis a certain number of years then Mr. Penske can shop around the world for his car. Penske (in this case is not a manufacturer, he is a retailer.) can contract with anybody for anything that rolls and put a Saturn badge on it. And there is nothing to say that this car will even remotely resemble (except for looks) the car that came before it. It could be a Chinese made car one year, and an Indian car the next.
We (at Saab) have been suffering for years with rebadged cars. We have Subarus and GM SUV’s that have Saab badges on them. There is no continuity between the systems in these cars and the Swedish Saabs. Absolutely none, but the grille’s all look alike. The same thing will happen to Saturn. When you open the hood any world engine at all could be in there.
Some people buy cars for a philosophy, or a feeling that they can buy into, like Saab. They were known as quirky cars, and have evolved to an upscale performance car, safe, and good on gas. The new Saturn, which in the beginning tried something new, a cult almost, will now evolve into the Walmart solution, the cheapest outsouced product available.
I wish Roger Penske luck. Our car industry is in big trouble, and obviously new solutions will need to be found. I just hope that our cars will be more than a can of beans at the local supermart.