Telesto Ventures forms new advisory team as bidding for Saturn intensifies

The investment group would use the Saturn brand to market several different vehicles sourced from foreign carmakers

The investment group would use the Saturn brand to market several different vehicles sourced from foreign carmakers

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We’ve heard a lot about Roger Penske and his plans to acquire the Saturn brand from General Motors and use it to start selling vehicles sourced from carmakers overseas. Last week Penske announced that his company hired ex-Chrysler president Tom LaSorda to advise on the bidding process, and then several inside sources revealed that Penske was planning to sell vehicles sourced from South Korea’s Renault-Samsung partnership through Saturn’s U.S. dealer network.

Standing in the way of Penske’s plans are several other bidding firms, one of which is Telesto Ventures. The investment group’s proposal revolves around buying Saturn and altering the brand's retail operations rather dramatically. Under the proposal, Telesto would keep selling Saturn vehicles sourced from GM for the next two years, before it would start to bring in models from third-party carmaker from overseas to sell through the Saturn distribution chain just like Penske.

The overseas models will not be branded as Saturns, but will rather be sold under various brand names. A Telesto Ventures spokesman previously explained that the Saturn brand would become "similar to a Best Buy model in that customers deal with Best Buy because of the customer experience not because they are the only place to buy a Samsung or a Sony TV".

The spokesman also revealed that the brand will focus on bringing in small, fuel-efficient vehicles to market, and the venture group is already in discussions with several foreign carmakers to broker a deal.

As bidding for Saturn intensifies, it’s been confirmed today that Telesto Ventures has also hired a team of auto industry advisers, including two former Chrysler executives - design guru Tom Gale and Steve Torok, who also headed Mitsubishi’s international operations. Other new recruits include Ted Cunningham, Chrysler's former sales chief, and Susan Unger, another past Chrysler executive, who worked as DaimlerChrysler's chief information officer, reports The Detroit News.

GM’s only official comments are that it’s proceeding with plans to sell Saturn and that a number of potential buyers have surfaced and expressed interest in the brand and dealer network. Furthermore, GM will secure an agreement with a specific buyer later this year.
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Comments (2)
  1. Telesto: sorry, but this sounds pretty naive. Most people who buy consumer electronics from Best Buy are conducting a basic transaction with little long-term investment in the brand or the operations behind it. Put another way, car buyers expect years of service from their dealer, while most Best Buy customers shun extended warranty offers, opting to rely solely on the original equipment manufacturer's coverage.

    The Saturn brand doesn't have a lot of brand equity left. Undermining what's left by bringing re-selling vehicles from automakers with presumably even less brand equity sounds hollow in the long term.

    Fiat seling via Chrysler? Perhaps. A return to the U.S. by PSA (Peugeot-Citroen)? I wish. But Malaysian-built Protons or something else sub-standard sold via Saturn dealerships really doesn't seem realistic.

  2. Can't we find a suitor for Saturn that is willing to create and keep it an American company, instead of outsourcing for vehicles, probably from China. I understand GM needs to dump whatever it can to gain some expendable income, but find someone that's willing to keep Saturn a decent car company, and hopefully keep it an American company as well...

    By the look of things, Chrysler will soon be Italian (which isn't a horrible thing) and GM will be so dwindled down, it will probably drop to the 4 or 5th largest car company instead of being at the top. Only Ford will be left...

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