Schumer, Corker ask GM to save Saturn

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have written General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson to request the sale of the Saturn auto brand and dealerships as the automaker moves through bankruptcy.

In a May 27 letter, Schumer and Corker asked Henderson to facilitate Saturn’s sale to preserve jobs and economies in Tennessee and New York that are associated with the brand.

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Acknowledging that GM must sell the Saab, Hummer and Saturn divisions, Schumer and Corker said they are concerned that “GM is not doing what it can to facilitate the sale, and that it may hold on to the brand to eliminate potential competitors in a post-bankruptcy situation.

“We are writing to urge you to consider any fair offers for Saturn so that the assembly line workers, auto dealers and others that rely on Saturn can live with a little less uncertainty,” the senators wrote Henderson.

Schumer and Corker note that Saturn’s production and dealerships have deep impacts on the economies of both states, pointing out there are 18 dealerships in New York and nine in Tennessee. Those dealerships employ more than 800 people and generated $300 million in sales in 2007, they noted.

“While we understand that GM has initiated a process to close many dealerships throughout the country, it seems to us that many of the Saturn dealerships can be saved if GM agrees to sell the brand at a fair price,” the letter reads. “We view the potential sale of the Saturn brand as an opportunity to keep a stable dealer network in place and lessen the impact of the ongoing market restructuring.”

In an industry presentation on Tuesday, GM announced that 16 potential buyers have expressed interest in the Saturn brand, and that the offers are being considered. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the company has found a buyer for Hummer, is negotiating the sale of Saab and plans to “wind down” the Pontiac brand.

General Motors opened a Saturn headquarters in Spring Hill, Tenn., in 1990 to assemble the new brand, but the facility was later retooled to produce the Chevrolet Traverse starting in October 2008.