Tiny motors in the Great White North By Mark Atkinson
There are some things that you should never do in the middle of winter, especially in Canada. Sun-tanning, water skiing, and expecting a race track outside of Hamilton, Ont. to be clear and usable to drive non-snow-tire-equipped city cars around in anger are three that come to mind easily. But that was one of the driving forces behind assembling four of the smallest, weirdest vehicles to hit Canadian roads in a bizarre sort of group test designed to discover which one of these microscopic mobiles was best suited to our wild climate. Of the four contenders, two are immediately recognizable: the fashionable Mini Cooper and miniature Smart fortwo. The others look like they've come straight out of the future ... and the '60s: the egg-like Mitsubishi iCar and the retro-styled Nissan Pao.
Penske Automotive Group, owned by racecar legend Roger Penske, will buy GM's castoff brand. By David Goldman and Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com staff writers - Last Updated: June 5, 2009: 3:54 PM ET NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Bankrupt automaker General Motors Corp. announced Friday that it will sell its Saturn unit to car dealership operator Penske Automotive Group. Penske (PAG, Fortune 500) is owned by former race car driver Roger Penske, who owns NASCAR and IndyCar racing teams. The deal gives Penske the rights to the 19-year old brand including its five different models. GM would continue production of only the three highest-selling models: the Aura sedan, and the Vue and Outlook cross-over SUVs, for the next two years. The Saturn Sky and Astra models will be discontinued. Penske, which has no Saturn dealerships in its network, will act only as a distributor for Saturn cars and parts to the brand's dealer network. Like almost all car dealerships in the U.S., Saturn dealerships are independently owned businesses. Penske has no plans to open any Saturn dealerships, said Anthony Pordon, senior vice president at Penske Automotive. The arrangement is similar to the deal under which Penske distributes Daimler AG's tiny Smart car in the United States. Penske does operate a small number of its own Smart dealerships, however, in addition to handling wholesale deliveries of the car to other dealerships. The deal, which GM expects to be completed in October, would save more than 13,000 jobs at Saturn and its roughly 350 dealers nationwide. All of Saturn's dealerships sell only Saturn vehicles, so they are reliant on the brand's continuation for their survival. View source.
Hartville, Ohio - Guy Hufstetler of Hartville’s State Farm Insurance is handing out smiles. He is driving a Mercedes Benz smart cart and people honk as he drives by. “Everybody who looks at it smiles,” said Hufstetler. “It’s like passing out smiles.” Hufstetler said he first saw a smart car in a Pink Panther movie. The European car has been around for more than 15 years and sold in more than 36 countries. [smart fortwo has been in production since 1998] “I thought it was funny,” said Hufstetler. “Then I saw an article that the smart car was coming to America. It’s a subsidiary of Mercedes Benz, so I thought I could never afford it.” However, Hufstetler was surprised to learn just how inexpensive the smart car really was. A passion coupe “for two” is well-equipped for less than $15,000. “It was far and away the cheapest car I could drive, and add on the wrap and it was a no-brainer,” said Hufstetler whose vehicle includes heated leather seats and a six-CD changer. Read full story here.