DETROIT -- General Motors' Saturn brand will double its lineup to six vehicles over the next three years, including a new minivan with SUV-like attributes, as it seeks to boost sales to about 500,000 cars and trucks by 2005, the head of Saturn said Tuesday.
"In the next 36 months, we'll be doubling our Saturn portfolio," Jill Lajdziak, Saturn's vice president for sales, service and marketing, told reporters at a background briefing on the new Saturn Relay and Buick Terraza minivans, which go on sale late next year.
The Relay will be the first of three new vehicles to join the Saturn lineup. Trying to rid minivans of their "soccer mom" image of boring people-haulers, GM refers to the Relay and three other new minivans coming out next year as "crossover sport vans" that combine SUV attributes with van versatility.
Saturn has not revealed what other vehicles it will add to the lineup, but Lajdziak has said previously that the brand is considering a small convertible.
With Saturn's 2003 sales up only 2.5 percent through September, far below the growth target of 10 percent for the year, Saturn has introduced incentives on its Ion small car, Lajdziak said.
But Saturn remains committed to boosting its annual sales to 500,000 vehicles a year by 2005, up from 280,248 in 2002, said Saturn spokeswoman Sherrie Childers Arb.
This week, Saturn launched sales incentives on its slow-selling Ion -- a down payment of from $159 to $199 and monthly payments of $159 to $199 for 72-month-long contracts.
"It's very competitive at the low end," of the market, Lajdziak said. "If you're going to be competitive in the low end, you've got to find the sweet spot in pricing."
She said rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. have also been offering lower prices on their small cars.
To cut inventory of unsold Ions, GM stopped production this week at the Ion assembly line at its Spring Hill, Tenn., plant, and is considering halting production again next week, Childers Arb said.
GM has inventory of about 140 days worth of Ions, up from the optimal level of about 65 to 70 days, Childers Arb said.