Former Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak is joining Penkse Automotive Group’s Smart U.S.A. Distributor LLC as vice president-sales and marketing, effective Jan 1.

Mega-dealer Penske Group, based in Bloomfield Hills, MI, says in a statement Lajdziak, who brings 30 years of automotive industry experience to Smart, will lead the subsidiary’s field-sales organization, including directing all aspects of advertising, marketing and sales and also will work directly with dealers to create business opportunities.

“I am pleased Jill has accepted our invitation to join Smart,” Chairman Roger Penske says. “With her background building the Saturn organization and her expertise in customer satisfaction…she is an outstanding fit.”

Penske had plans to buy the Saturn division from the former General Motors Corp. last summer but later canceled the deal. Under a memorandum of understanding, Penske was to obtain the rights to the brand as well as other Saturn assets, such as service and parts-distribution operations.

GM was to continue production, on a contract basis, of the Saturn Aura midsize sedan, Vue midsize cross/utility vehicle and Outlook large CUV. Penske was to sell those vehicles through more than 350 Saturn dealerships.

The new GM plans to phase out both the Saturn and Pontiac brands in the coming year.