Detroit auto tycoon Roger Penske, who has reached a tentative deal to acquire the Saturn brand and dealer network, wants to eventually build vehicles in the U.S. after initially importing from a foreign manufacturer, Penske told reporters in Detroit Friday.
Penske is the head of U.S. Penske Automotive Group Inc., which operates more than 300 franchises in the United States and internationally, selling 40 brands.
According to a Detroit News report, Penske has signed a memo of understanding to acquire Saturn and its dealer network and the due diligence period will take 60-90 days. The deal will preserve 13,000 jobs and could close in the late third quarter.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal includes the Saturn brand, the service and parts operation and a network of about 350 dealerships.
Penske said GM will supply vehicles on a contract basis for at least two years, at which point Saturn would import vehicles made by foreign automakers.
It is too early to say which manufacturer will supply Saturn vehicles, Penske said. But "Many world partners have put their hands up," he said.
Penske does not have a deal with a foreign manufacturer but has been in talks with a number of companies.
"Our ultimate goal is to have those vehicles built in the U.S.," he said.
Penske expects to offer Saturn's dealers in the U.S. a new franchise agreement and said it was a priority to determine how many Canadian dealers would be part of the new company.
The deal adds to Penske's storied automotive career and caps a historic week for GM, which filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.
Penske, a billionaire in Detroit and a racing legend whose career has ranged from building engines as owner of Detroit Diesel Corp. to obtaining exclusive U.S. distribution rights for the Smart minicar.