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Opel Astra confirmed as nex-gen Ion Rebadge!!

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Done Deal - - Rebadged Opel Astra will come to U.S. at end of 2007 as Saturn Ion - - By HARALD HAMPRECHT AND RICK KRANZ | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS - - Source: Autoweek

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.

The current Astra went on sale in Europe in 2004. The European press has praised the car, and it was western Europe's second-best seller last year with 453,000 units, just behind the Volkswagen Golf.

Jim Sanfilippo, executive vice president of the consulting firm AMCI in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., says Saturn should have no trouble selling the car if it is well equipped. "People like to buy cars from Saturn dealers," said Sanfilippo, "and that is still a franchise in General Motors' portfolio that can attract import buyers."

Since 1958, GM occasionally has sold cars from Opel in the United States. In recent years it imported the Cadillac Catera and built the Opel-based Saturn L series in Wilmington, Del. Neither sold well.

GM builds the Ion in Spring Hill, Tenn. It has not disclosed plans for a new vehicle to replace the Ion there.

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Excellent news.

Only issue I have is that they're only planning on bringing in 40K, none of which will make GM a dime at $16,000.

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A few notes. The next Ion may be called Astra! Also, the article says it'll sticker at around $16K, making it a "premium" compact, to battle Jetta, Corolla, Civic, Sentra, etc. That lends alot of creditbility to the idea that the Corsa really could come hear as a sub-Astra model to compete with the Yaris, Fit, Versa, etc.

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Already posted, so I'm going to close this thread.

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