Saturn Stores May Become Renault-Samsung Stores
By Brendan Moore
Roger 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.
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