DETROIT — General Motors Corp. has reached a deal to sell its Saturn division to Bloomington Hills, Mich.-based Penske Automotive Group, the world's second-largest auto retailer.

The deal will allow the embattled automaker more flexibility as it works would save more than 350 dealerships and

13,000 jobs at Saturn and its retailers in the United States, and would preserve the customer-focused Saturn brand.

The proposed transaction is part of GM’s rebuilding efforts

outlined in the viability plan that was submitted to the U.S. government

earlier this year. Under the terms of the agreement, Penske would obtain the

rights to the brand as well as certain other Saturn assets. GM would continue

production, on a contract basis, of the Saturn Aura, Vue and Outlook.

“This is the combination of two iconic teams: Saturn and

Penske,” said Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak. “GM had the vision to

create Saturn and has the desire to see it succeed in the future.”

“Saturn has a passionate customer base and outstanding dealer

network,” said Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Automotive Group. “For nearly

20 years Saturn has focused on treating the customer right. We share that

philosophy, and we want to build on those strengths.”

Penske is the second-largest publicly-traded automotive retailer in the United States as measured by total revenue.

Saturn began selling cars in 1990 and has sold more than 4

million vehicles. More than 80 percent of those vehicles are still in

operation, according to data from R.L. Polk. Saturn has regularly scored among

the industry leaders for non-luxury brands in customer satisfaction surveys.

“There has been a groundswell of support for Saturn, with our

retailers and owners urging us to save the brand,” said Lajdziak. “We heard

their call loud and clear, and it inspired us as we worked to secure Saturn’s


The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of

this year and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory

approvals. Neither GM nor Penske would say how much the dealer group is paying

for the brand.