General Motors plans to add a second European-built model to Saturn's product lineup in the United States.
The next-generation Opel Vectra wagon will be imported and sold as a Saturn, senior GM sources in Europe say. The target is 50,000 units annually, beginning in 2008 or 2009.
The mid-sized wagon will be assembled in Ruesselsheim, Germany, using GM's next-generation, front-wheel-drive Epsilon platform.
Interviewed at the British Motor Show, GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster said "a final decision has not been made" on exporting the Vectra wagon to the United States. But Forster said the plan would be feasible. He said the future Vectra sedan and the wagon will use the next-generation Epsilon vehicle architecture.
"An export version would not require any additional expenditure," he said, because "for the first time (the Vectra) is based on a global component architecture."
That architecture will be used for vehicles sold in Europe, the United States and elsewhere, including the next-generation Saab 9-3, Pontiac G6 and Aura.
The Saturn Aura sedan that goes on sale this fall is based on the current- generation Epsilon architecture.
The Vectra wagon will become the second Opel import in Saturn's lineup. Beginning in 2007, GM will replace the Saturn Ion with rebadged Opel Astras, aiming to sell as many as 45,000 units annually. The fwd Astra is about the size of a Ford Focus.
The imported Vectra wagon will offer all-wheel drive and a V-6 engine, says Jim Hall, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific Inc. in Southfield, Mich.
Hall said Saturn's marketing team is now determining whether to launch the vehicle as a premium model, basically the wagon version of the upcoming Aura sedan, or as a "quasi off-road version." The 2007 Aura introduces the styling themes for the upcoming Vectra wagon.
You may e-mail Harald Hamprecht at [email protected]
You may e-mail Rick Kranz at [email protected]