TURIN -- Carrozzeria Bertone may build a limited run of Opel Astra convertibles for sale in the US, supplier sources say.
The move would help the Italian coachbuilder offset the loss of the contract to build the next Opel Astra convertible.
Opel parent General Motors has decided to build the next Opel Astra convertible as a four-seat cabrio-coupe at its Antwerp, Belgium, plant starting in January 2006. It is investing E100 million to produce 25,000 units a year on the same assembly line as the four-door Astra.
Currently, Bertone builds the coupe and cabriolet versions of the lower medium-class Astra.
Sources say Bertone's contract with GM for the coupe will end next June. Its agreement for the cabriolet expires next December.
But Bertone is trying to win a new contract to build up to 25,000 units of the cabriolet for the US market over a two-year period starting next year, say suppliers. The model could be badged as a Chevrolet or Saturn.
Antonio Blandino, Bertone managing director, said the company is bidding for four manufacturing contracts, but declined to give further details.
Bertone produced 22,000 Astras last year, down from 35,000 units in 2002 and 33,000 in 2001. This year it will build about 13,500 units and next year just under 10,000.
The Bertone-built Astra coupe was introduced in September 1999, followed by the cabriolet in March 2001.
Bertone built 8,256 in the first five months of 2005, down from 13,605 in the same period last year.