It's no secret GM is transforming its Saturn brand into a Vauxhall-like facsimile of its European Opel division. Vice Chairpilot Bob Lutz is not hiding that decision, having recently said "no more separate design or engineering activity" will take place at Saturn, but will be concentrated at Opel. (Guess that clears up the whole badge-engineering question.) GM's next cross-border import — following the Outlook SUV and Aura midsize sedan — will be the Opel Astra, which is reportedly set to appear in the US as the 2008 Saturn Ion. According to AutoWeek, the Astra-cum-Ion will cost around $16,000 in the states, making it less of an entry-level subcompact than a mid-market hatch, and GM's cales target is a paltry 20,000 to 40,000 units — far fewer than the 100,000 or so Ions it sold last year. It's bad news for workers at the company's Spring Hill, Tenn plant where the current Ion is built, considering no replacement vehicle has been scheduled there.
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