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This article was published 2/9/2009 (4239 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MANITOBA'S only Saturn dealership will disappear by the end of the year as the restructuring of the North American auto sector continues.
Birchwood Automotive Group president Steve Chipman said Wednesday that General Motors notified Birchwood's Saturn Saab of Pointe West dealership earlier this week that all 46 Canadian Saturn dealerships will cease operations on or before Dec. 31.
He said GM officials and Saturn's new owner, automotive entrepreneur Roger Penske, analysed the market and concluded it wasn't worthwhile to continue selling and distributing Saturn vehicles in Canada.
The Birchwood Group is looking at a number of options for its 10-year-old, 8,000-square-foot Saturn store in its Pointe West Auto Mall on west Portage Avenue.
Chipman said one option is to convert it to another auto brand. The other is to use the building as extra space for the new Birchwood Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership that Birchwood and Orion Chevrolet are launching. It's located next door to the Saturn Saab building.
"Those are the two most logical options," he said, adding, "we'll know before the end of December (which way it goes)."
Chipman said current and future owners of Saturn vehicles don't need to worry about warranty or repair work because Birchwood Chevrolet will perform any warranty or maintenance work that needs to be done and GM will continue to produce Saturn parts for at least another 10 years.
He said the Birchwood group should also be able to find jobs within its operations for Saturn Saab's 19 employees.
Chipman and Saturn Saab sales manager Shayne Rankin said they weren't surprised by the decision to wind down Saturn's Canadian retail network. "Maybe more disappointment than anything," Rankin said. "But you move on."
The Birchwood Auto Group also used to own the Saturn on Regent dealership before it was merged with Saturn Saab last October. Chipman said Birchwood has been selling Saturn vehicles since 1991, and sold an average of 400 to 500 per year.