Potential Owner of Saturn Will Sell Foreign Brands

By Brendan Moore

04.16.2009

saturn-logo-smallYou have probably read by now that Saturn has an interested buyer named Telesto Ventures (sounds like a wireless phone company, doesn’t it?) who made their intentions known in the last 48 hours.

What is most interesting from my point of view is that Telesto states that if they do acquire Saturn, their plan is to sell GM-sourced vehicles until 2011, and then sell mostly foreign brands after that.

What sort of foreign brands will Saturn sell in this scenario? Will it be bargain-basement cars from China or India? Will it be mid-market offerings from companies like Peugeot, who has the wonderful 308? Or, in the same vein, perhaps they’ll sell the Renault Logan, a sales leader everywhere it is currently sold? Or, perhaps they’ll sell some re-badged Japanese or Korean cars that are not currently sold in the States. Then again, they could sell re-badged versions of cars already sold in the US by someone else – the operating premise here would be, “buy it from us, we’ll treat you better before and after the sale because we’re Saturn”. Perhaps they’ll sell a combination of all of those possible choices, in addition to offering some electric cars (Subaru R1e, anyone?).

Really, all of the possibilities make one’s head spin.

Saturn has 384 retail locations (dealerships) in the US as I am typing this; undoubtedly that number will be smaller by the end of this year. But, still, it’s a nice little retail network that is probably about the right size for niche products like the ones I think Saturn intends to sell.

GM, for their part, says that Telesto’s interest is genuine and legitimate, and that they are moving forward with their analysis of Telesto’s offer.

Telesto is not known to have any auto experience at their company, but, there are a lot of auto executives out of work these days – it shouldn’t be too hard to find some hired guns to help them through the first couple of years of planning. They’ll have a cushion until the GM products go away, so it wouldn’t be that difficult to come up with a plan in that timeframe. Certification of the candidate vehicles will be the hard part.

It’s an interesting plan. If they succeed, then American consumers will have even more choices than they do currently.

2010-subaru-r1e

Subaru R1e EV

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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1 Comment

  1. I don’t see how a bunch of people that don’t know anything about selling cars, who will be selling cars no Americans have ever heard of, are going to be successful.

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