General Motors is asking its Saturn division not to play up its pending sale to Penske Automotive Group even though some dealers think it is the biggest thing the brand has going for it, John D. Stoll
reports. GM doesn't want the Penske connection to overshadow the Saturn brand name, at least until after the deal is closed.
That is creating a dilemma for some dealers who are eager to
throw off the tarnished yoke of GM. "People want to buy from someone they like," says Scott Davies, owner of Saturn of Wichita, Kan. "A lot of customers won't buy a car from GM, but they will buy a
car from Roger Penske."
Traffic into Saturn showrooms has been up 35% year-to-year this month, thanks to enthusiasm about the Penske deal, according to Saturn marketing director Kim
McGill. That follows a 58% decline in sales from a year earlier. "We were on death row," she says. The brand is in "remission," she continues, but "is not yet totally cured."
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