RUESSELSHEIM, Germany — Opel has laid the groundwork for a hybrid-drive Astra and possibly a hybrid Saab compact.
“We are working on a hybrid version of the next Astra,” a General Motors development engineer told Automobilwoche.
GM also is building capability for the E-Flex plug-in electric vehicle into the Delta compact car architecture, which will be the basis for the Astra and a future entry-level Saab.
Production of the next-generation Astra will begin in Europe in 2010.
“We are building 13 different models on this architecture,” the engineer said.
A hybrid version is especially important for the United States, where the Astra arrives in dealerships this fall. Saturn spokesman Steve Janisse said GM will not discuss the next-generation Astra. “It's fair to say that hybrids and the Saturn brand make a lot of sense, but we'll see how this one plays out first before we discuss the future,” Janisse said.
The small Saab is expected to deliver most of its sales volume in the United States.
Jamie LaReau contributed to this report