Saturn Stores May Become Renault-Samsung Stores

By Brendan Moore

05.26.2009

renault-samsung-logoRoger Penske has met with Renault-Nissan Carlos Ghosn and other Renault executives in Paris to discuss selling Renault-Samsung vehicles through the Saturn dealer network.

Renault-Samsungs are built in Korea using Nissan platforms and a combination of mostly Nissan and Renault parts. Renault owns 80.1% of the company and Samsung Card, the credit card division of Samsung, is the minority owner with 19.9%.

Penske is interested in selling some or all of Renault-Samsung’s four vehicles branded as Saturns in the United States. There is talk that Penske is also pushing for new models from Renault-Samsung that would be more focused on the American market.

Penske also has the Smart Car distribution rights in the United States.

Penske recently picked up former Chrysler head Tom LaSorda as a consultant to the proposed Saurn acquisition. Penske has also added two megadealers from Michigan; Joe Serra and David Fischer.

According to the usual anonymous sources, Penske has determined that he will only need around 250 dealers to retail the new Saturns, and the Saturn dealer network currently stands at 384 retail stores. It is expected that many of the surviving stores will be on the East and West Coast, with large metro areas in the rest of the country making the cut. Which, in a unusual coincidence, just happens to look a lot like the Smart dealer footprint.

Exactly what the proposed legal relationship between Penske and Renault-Nissan (or Renault-Samsung) will be is murky at this point. It is not known if Penske will do this alone as an exclusive distributor, or, be part owner of a new Renault-Nissan company set up to sell vehicles in the US.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

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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11 Comments

  1. WTF!?

    Never even heard of this company!

    This is what we have look forward to from now on? Cars made by some Korean television company?

  2. I don’t think this is going to work. They might want to come up with a better plan.

  3. Samsungs look like rebadged Nissans. Therefore will new Saturns be kind of Nissan’s Mercury division? GM rebaged Opel’s were better and still nobody bothered to buy. Penske needs to come up with some concept or vision for Saturn or whole enterprise is doomed.

  4. I cannot believe that this hasn’t been said yet, but if Renault supplies a version of the Logan to the next Saturn, their success will be a given.

  5. Just what the American market has been pining for — more ugly little Korean cars.

  6. I agree with Bill D.- I’m afraid that these forgettable Samsung conveyances are not the ticket to a bright future for Saturn. Does Saturn have THAT much brand equity that they’re worth saving just to retail Samsung cars? And what will the Samsung vehicles do to that brand equity? I’d think whatever is left of it will crumble away.

    Saturn is dying just as they’ve finallly got truly good products. Trying to resurrect the brand by selling vehicles which are literally automotive leftovers seems like a fool’s errand.

  7. The Renault part of Renault-Samsung is actually more interesting. Renault has some really nice cars. I leased one for six weeks recently while vacationing in France and was very impressed. They actually have enough style and features to differentiate them from what is sold in the US today.

  8. Where does Nissan’s NA entry level product range stand in all this?

    What about it’s Versa, Sentra, and upcoming EVs?

    Or is Nissan’s plan to focus on more expensive hybrid premium compacts and mid size models in NA and leave the entry level market to a Samsung range? To sort of do battle with the Tata Nano if it ever makes it to NA?

    At least Samsung makes far better electronics than GM’s cheapo Korean arm, Daewoo.

  9. I like the Logan and other Renault vehicles, but turning Saturn into the import arm of Samsung seems ill advised. But I’m probably wrong.

  10. I have owned everything from a VW Bug and Van, to a Chrysler Mark IV, Jaguar XKE, Mercedes, Honda, and now a BMW. Still the best one ever was my 1978 Renault Le Car. Spacy, 55mpg, top rolled back almost felt like a convertable with orthopedic seats and great sound system. I would be the first in line to buy another one if they came back on the market in the U.S.

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