DETROIT -- Saturn hopes to draw buyers from Asian automakers by offering its base Ion sedan with a special loan deal: $159 a month for six years with a down payment of $159.
The Ion has faced stiff Asian competition since its introduction last fall, and the automaker is hoping to jump-start sales for its newest vehicle.
"It is an unbelievably competitive segment, especially from a price standpoint," said Jill Lajdziak, vice president of Saturn sales, service and marketing. "You've got to hit the sweet spot with price.
"Brands like Hyundai have driven that, and if we're going to be in the hunt, we're going to have a payment that competes with key competitors," said Lajdziak, who spoke at a Tuesday, Oct. 28, press event here.
The $159 per month deal buys an Ion with a manual transmission and no air conditioning.
Customers also can buy an Ion with a manual transmission and air conditioning for $179 per month for six years. A model with an automatic transmission costs $199 per month for six years.
The program, which started Oct. 28, ends Jan. 2. All prices include destination charges.
"The Hondas and Toyotas of the world focus very much on (monthly) payment as well. They are out there with some very aggressive leasing right now. We need to be out there and hitting the sweet spots," said Lajdziak.
The Ion, developed off General Motors' front-drive Delta architecture, replaced the S series last fall.
But Ion sales have not lived up to expectations. Through September, Saturn sold 89,443 Ions this year. In the same nine-month period, Toyota sold 213,090 Corollas and Hyundai sold 93,095 Elantras.
Saturn sold 162,110 S-series units during all of 2001.