Is there an Astra in Saturn's future?
Saturn has applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to use "Astra" as a vehicle name, and recent events suggest why. General Motors recently indicated that most of Saturn's future vehicles will originate at Opel - and Opel now markets small, front-drive cars under the Astra name.
"Both brands will benefit from this partnership," GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said this month at the New York auto show. "The Saturn team provides input and direction, and Opel will infuse its own European design flair and great on-road performance into Saturn's product line."
The 2007 Sky roadster originated from Opel's 2003 Vauxhall Lightning concept. Opel's German design team had a hand in the 2007 Saturn Aura sedan, and the next Vue SUV will be designed at Opel.
Which begs the question: With the Saturn Ion dying during the 2007 model year, what will replace it? Lutz didn't say, but Saturn managers admit the Ion name may be discarded.
If the Astra trademark application is approved, it's a decent bet that the Ion replacement will be the Opel Astra, rebadged as the Saturn Astra.