Although economic analysts predict a slight downturn in the U.S. market this year, Saturn expects the Ion and midcycle enhancements of the Vue to boost its 2003 sales by 10 percent.
Jill Lajdziak, Saturn's sales and marketing head, also promised dealers at the make meeting that they will get a seven-passenger vehicle by fall 2004. General Motors executives say the vehicle will be a minivan. It will be aimed at economy- and import-minded buyers.
Lajdziak also discussed a few midcycle enhancements to the Vue sport wagon that will be available this fall, including an interior freshening and a Honda engine. One version will have a supercharged, 240-hp engine with 18-inch wheels and is due in September.
Saturn sold 280,248 units last year, up 7.5 percent from 2001. William Bradshaw, president of the multifranchise Bradshaw Automotive Cos. in Greer, S.C., said he is not concerned about the GM division's recent jump onto the incentives merry-go-round.
"It's a competitive market and we don't operate in a vacuum," said Bradshaw, who is a member of GM's national dealer council. Incentives are necessary now to attract more import intenders, he said.
Dealers saw the next three TV commercials for the Ion - the first of which, titled "Prom night," begins airing nationally in two weeks. Ad agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners in San Francisco created the spots.
News Editor Charles Child contributed to this report