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GM plans to replace Saturn Ion with Opel car

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GM plans to replace Saturn Ion with Opel car

Rebadged Astras will come to U.S. at end of 2007

Harald Hamprecht | Rick Kranz | Automotive News / May 8, 2006

General Motors plans to import rebadged Opel Astra compacts to replace the Ion at the bottom of Saturn's lineup.

The imports, starting at the end of next year, will sticker at about $16,000 - approximately $3,500 above that of the 2006 Saturn Ion 2 sedan, Ion's base model. Ion production is scheduled to end in December.

GM declined to comment. But sources within GM and its Opel subsidiary confirmed an outline of the plan.

Last year GM sold 100,891 Ions. That car follows the S series, which sold 200,000-plus units from 1993 through 1999, peaking at 286,003 in 1994.

The annual sales target for the Astra model will be considerably lower, ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 units.

Saturn's version of the Astra probably will be assembled in Antwerp, Belgium. The name Astra may be used on the Saturn model.

Importing Astras would fit GM's strategy of repositioning Saturn as a Europeanized brand. At the New York auto show last month, GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said nearly all Saturn vehicles will be based on vehicles from Adam Opel AG, GM's German subsidiary.

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More (less important stuff) at link: Automotive News

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The article doesn't say exactly which Astra models will be imported. Antwerp builds the the 3-door, 5-door and wagon versions of the Astra. 40,000 seems like a low target if they intend on importing all 3. What if GM does something stupid like only importing the wagon? I wouldn't put it past them. Anyway, if/when the 3-door makes it over here, it'll be my next new car. I hope I can hold out.

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Great news. This is only about two decades overdue!

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40,000 seems like a low target if they intend on importing all 3.

There's no Astra sedan, so that (along with some capacity constraints, maybe) might explain why the sales target is so low.

Edited by ZL-1

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I assume we are just getting the 3dr and 5dr, but the Twin Top would be good to have here--it would give Saturn a coupe and 4-seat convertible to compete with the Eos.

I wonder if it is going to be called the Saturn Astra--sounds better than Ion and fits well with Aura, IMHO.

Edited by moltar

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(...)but the Twin Top would be goot to have--it would give Saturn a coupe and 4-seat  convertible to compete with the Eos.

Saw a Twin Top at the car show yesterday and it is a sweet looking car! There was an Eos at the VW stand (and I saw a preproduction Eos at a mall's parking lot last Saturday).

I'd go for the Astra for outside looks and the Eos for the interior.

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I'm so going to buy it.  I don't care that it's smaller then my current car.  I must have the ASTRA!!

It would be smaller than my current car too, but would be something fresh in my garage.

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My apologies to Gerardo. GM announced at the end of March that it will sell the new Astra in Mexico, imported from Belgium, along with the new-generation Zafira from Bochum in Germany. The Mexican Chevrolet Astra 5-door gets a 123 hp 1.8 L Family 1 engine (the old 1.8 L, not the new 138 hp Dual-CVVT engine), and the old cast-iron Saab 2.0 Turbo in 200 hp tune (not the new aluminum engine used in Epsilon sedans).

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terrific news no matter what the volume constraints are. The constraints are there for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the UAW, probably. No matter what, GM needs to work on getting full volume of around 100k-200k units for the year after. This car will move serious volume for GM.

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My apologies to Gerardo. GM announced at the end of March that it will sell the new Astra in Mexico, imported from Belgium, along with the new-generation Zafira from Bochum in Germany. The Mexican Chevrolet Astra 5-door gets a 123 hp 1.8 L Family 1 engine (the old 1.8 L, not the new 138 hp Dual-CVVT engine), and the old cast-iron Saab 2.0 Turbo in 200 hp tune (not the new aluminum engine used in Epsilon sedans).

Are those the engines we're getting? <_<

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Sounds (and looks) fantastic. The price versus the Ion went up enough to change people's minds about Saturn and is also high enough for a smaller, cheaper model to be brought in if need be. Fingers crossed for a smooth intro.

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I see no reason why we wouldn't get better engines than those in Mexico since the US market is much more competitive I think.

By the end of 2007 I'm guessing it will have something with 250+HP, so the turbo Ecotec could be a possibility.

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Don't forget that GM is new in the premium compact market, and don't know how customers will react to a price tag $5000 higher than an ION. If demand is greater than the 40,000, then GM can look at increasing it later.

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Good point. The quality just has to be there...if it is a nice vehicle that hits all the right marks, it'll sell itself no problem.

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Does the Honda Civic have beam axle or IRS? The new Civic coupes are sharp! The Civic coupe and the Mazda 3 sedan are my two favorite small cars. But I wish there was something that offered dent resistant panels! Not a single new car on the market will hold up as well, cosmetically, as my old Saturn.

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