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Saturn slips into Opel's orbit

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Saturn slips into Opel's orbit

Lutz: 'Saturn will be like Vauxhall'

Dave Guilford

Automotive News / March 6, 2006 - 6:00 am

GENEVA -- Saturn's future looks a lot like the present-day status of General Motors' British subsidiary, Vauxhall.

Vauxhall slaps its badge on cars created by GM's German subsidiary, Adam Opel AG. That's what Saturn will do, at least in the heart of its car lineup, GM executives said in interviews at the Geneva auto show.

The move is meant to bring European design flair and sporty handling to Saturn. But it's also a sign of GM's move to strip regional and brand executives of authority to modify global decisions in engineering, design and manufacturing.

Saturns still will be built in North America, not Europe. GM executives aren't talking about importing and rebadging vehicles produced at Opel plants overseas, but rather making the identical cars in the United States.

But brand bosses would lose some control. Robert Lutz, GM vice chairman and head of global product development, said that in much of its lineup, "Saturn will be like Vauxhall."

He added: "Now Opel cars will be done for three brands instead of two."

Not 100%

The changes will play out in the heart of the car lineup, with the next Saturn Ion subcompact likely to be a rebadged Opel Astra. Carl-Peter Forster, president of General Motors Europe, said the 2007 Saturn Aura, which replaces the defunct L series mid-sized car in Saturn's lineup, is "clearly Opel-inspired."

The Aura shares the Epsilon mid-sized car platform with the Opel Vectra. GM Europe's design studio in Ruesselsheim, Germany, influenced the styling.

But GM CEO Rick Wagoner said the Opelization of Saturn is not total. The Saturn lineup also will include vehicles exclusive to North America, he said.

One example is the coming Saturn Outlook crossover, built on the Lambda architecture in Lansing, Mich.

Vauxhall derivative

When working with Opel, Saturn officials will participate in initial product planning, Lutz said. But they won't be able to dictate changes.

"Saturn would be involved early on, but I would say they're definitely the junior partner in the relationship," Lutz said.

"The Opel product is good. Does Saturn wish they had an Opel Astra (compact car) instead of a Saturn Ion?"

You bet, Lutz contends.

Lajdziak: 'We feel very good'

Jill Lajdziak, general manager of the Saturn brand, said Saturn and Opel will work together as partners and will make sure products will work in both regions.

"Obviously we feel very good about our relationship with Opel," Lajdziak said. "It's a good example of leveraging GM's global capabilities."

As for replacing the Ion with Opel's Astra, Lajdziak said that Saturn is looking at several alternatives for the Ion, but she declined to discuss those options.

No to regionalism

Lutz clearly has little patience for what he called "the ugly head of regionalism" that results in changes to vehicle designs coming in from another region.

He cited U.S. engineers' decision to soften the ride of the Opel Astra when creating two platform mates, the U.S.-built Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu. The result, Lutz said, was additional work and inferior vehicle handling.

"Part of it is job protection; part of it is the old regionalism coming through that 'we have our own standards in the United States, and we're not going to pick up what the Europeans do,' " Lutz said.

"We are going to be watching this like a hawk. Nothing gets changed unless it absolutely has to."

The benefit, Lutz said, is in cutting component costs and product development costs. If it can enforce its plan, GM can save as much as 40 percent on engineering costs of new vehicles.

Said Lutz: "This is the advantage of it being my budget and not a regional budget."

Link: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti...6/1003&refsect=

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Guest Josh

As for replacing the Ion with Opel's Astra, Lajdziak said that Saturn is looking at several alternatives for the Ion, but she declined to discuss those options.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Which means "yes, but we're not ready to announce it yet."

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Great news, but predictable.

It's good there will be some US-specific product. It will be interesting, though, if such efforts will be easily differentiated from the European. Saturn doesn't need to be schizophrenic with its product any longer.

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Which means "yes, but we're not ready to announce it yet."

Hey Josh, the Outlook is still on!................ :pokeowned:

just kidding, guy. :)

Here's what I like that Lutz said

"He cited U.S. engineers' decision to soften the ride of the Opel Astra when creating two platform mates, the U.S.-built Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu. The result, Lutz said, was additional work and inferior vehicle handling.

"Part of it is job protection; part of it is the old regionalism coming through that 'we have our own standards in the United States, and we're not going to pick up what the Europeans do,' " Lutz said.

"We are going to be watching this like a hawk. Nothing gets changed unless it absolutely has to."

can this please include V6 engines?????!?!?!?!?!? Can I hold you to that????

Edited by regfootball

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He cited U.S. engineers' decision to soften the ride of the Opel Astra when creating two platform mates

That is the part that I caught. So it sounds as if the Saturn was trying to soften the suspension of the Astra which mean it should not be very long before it comes over. I mean if they are truly keeping most of the car the same.

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Great news, but predictable.

It's good there will be some US-specific product.  It will be interesting, though, if such efforts will be easily differentiated from the European.  Saturn doesn't need to be schizophrenic with its product any longer.

GM still doesn't get it! Unfortunately they want to change the engines, transmissions and suspensions when they build them in the US. They should use the same engines transmissions and suspensions, that is a big part of what makes them "european"

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I have got to believe there are going to be some pretty major powertrain differences in some cases. Opel/Vauxhaul has some pretty small engines in the Astra, all are 2.0 (1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and diesels) or under if I am not mistaken. Or else Satun owners will have to get used to low displacement high reve engines.

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Saturns still will be built in North America, not Europe. GM executives aren't talking about importing and rebadging vehicles produced at Opel plants overseas, but rather making the identical cars in the United States.

:thumbsup:

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I have got to believe there are going to be some pretty major powertrain differences in some cases.  Opel/Vauxhaul has some pretty small engines in the Astra, all are 2.0 (1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and diesels) or under if I am not mistaken.  Or else Satun owners will have to get used to low displacement high reve engines.

Not too mention that some of those engines that Opel and Vauxhaul use are diesel that if I'm not mistake do not meet US emission standards. Or maybe it's just the stigma on how the general public views diesel engines.

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Saturn will probably end up getting a version of the Astra and may even call it that.. that Astra convertible is a sweet car, so is the three door version.. there is a "rumor" that the assembly plant in Lordstown Ohio is going to get a third model.

it was on the youngstown ohio news channels last week.. they already have the Chevy Cobalt and soon will have the Pontiac G5..

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I have got to believe there are going to be some pretty major powertrain differences in some cases.  Opel/Vauxhaul has some pretty small engines in the Astra, all are 2.0 (1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and diesels) or under if I am not mistaken.  Or else Satun owners will have to get used to low displacement high reve engines.

[

if the Astra is sold here it will probably feature the current ecotec's found in the Cobalt..

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Or, they'll just ship the Opel tuned ECOTEC engines over and place them in the Astra. If not that, then they'll at least start building those engines here and offer them for a variety of models.

Edited by Cadillacfan

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Saturn will probably end up getting a version of the Astra and may even call it that..  that Astra convertible is a sweet car, so is the three door version..  there is a "rumor" that the assembly plant in Lordstown Ohio is going to get a third model.

it was on the youngstown ohio news channels last week.. they already have the Chevy Cobalt and soon will have the Pontiac G5..

I could happen...

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I think this is GREAT!!!! and a 'no brainer'

Think about the potential Saturn has now!!!!! MINIMAL product development, HUGE growth potential and HUGE $$$ potential!!!

Could this mean that the Saturn division becomes more like the Hummer division in America, or to a lesser extent GMC???? As in, it becomes one less "Suffering" division to prop up because of the very nature of business and it essentially BEING Opel????

Therefore, more $$$ here for other "damaged brands"

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'Saturn will be like Vauxhall'

Best excuse to not kill Saturn yet. :)

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In all honesty, I do not know if that will be such a great idea, when you bring over European market cars and engines, you have the propensity to be have realiability issues(VW) and space issues(ford Mondeo/Contour) and even safety issues (Fusion). I would hate to have cars based because of their lack of backseat space, headroom, power, or poor crash scores. The only way I can see it working is if it's some kind Niche thing, like Mazda is, to a degree. The different engines are good idea, only dealership mechanics are able to repair and service correctly (catera). It would be nice to have a disel option, other than the germans. Do we have someone on the forum that is familar with Opel/Vaxhaul and is able to enlighten us as to how these vehicles perform, hold up over a period of time?

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The question is how fast will the Ion be replaced.  It couldn't be fast enough.

it's already 7 years too late...

I just hope my job will hold on until these things show up. I've been hearing "be patient, they're coming!" since I started with Saturn in the beginning of 2004.

Promises are great, concept cars are fun, but people buy cars not concepts and promises. If I wanted to sell promises and concepts I'd be an insurance salesman.

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Guest Josh

FOG, I thought many of us said this years ago? That Saturn should become the American Opel AND that Saturn should be the "Green Line" of General Motors.

By God it seems as if what we've said to people in this business is actually happening. Interesting, isn't it?

Now, wait until GM's RWD programs comes out. I *hope* it resembles the Chevelle Program :AH-HA_wink:

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