Analyst: Production of Next-Gen Saturn Astra, Chevy Cobalt Moving to Mexico

General Motors executives have been implying for awhile that production of the next-generation Saturn Astra would move to North America when the new model debuts in 2010. What's been up for debate has been the identity of manufacturing facility where the new model would be built. As of today, it looks like the debate is finally over.

UAW officials representing GM's Lordstown, Ohio plant where the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 are currently built, recently finished negotiating a new local labor contract. Workers will reportedly begin voting on the new contract terms on Monday. If approved, the UAW says that Lordstown is slated to begin building a new fuel-efficient car sometime after Cobalt and G5 production ends in 2009.

"From every indication this new product is going to get close to 40 to 41 miles to the gallon," Jim Graham, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, told the Associated Press at a news conference yesterday about the new labor contract. "We're very excited. You come up with a new product that gets 40 miles to the gallon and you'll have longevity. The car's going to sell."

The new model will the replacement for the Chevy Aveo, Erich Merkle, analyst with IRN, told Ohio's Vindicator newspaper. The current Aveo is built in South Korea and imported into the country. "GM plans to begin making the new model in Lordstown in 2010, to be followed by a new rear-wheel drive, mid-size model in early 2011," the paper said he told them. If the contract is approved Monday, "you are going to start seeing things move very rapidly toward a new product," he said.

As a result of the new product at Lordstown, Merkle also told the paper that the Cobalt – and the upcoming Saturn Astra – will be built in Mexico. "The Cobalt will be moved there because GM wants a high-production model in a new plant it is building," the paper wrote he said. "The Saturn Astra, which now is made in Europe, also will be moved to Mexico."

Source: The Vindicator, Associated Press

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TiVo Alert: See the Saturn Vue Hybrid on "Renovation Nation" Tonight

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From Lisa Gilpin at ImSaturn: Saturn has teamed up with Planet Green's "Renovation Nation." Steve Thomas is the host, and works with a variety of groups and individuals to make their homes more green and cost-efficient. Tonight's episode begins a summer-long journey around the country, where Steve will work with a variety of local Habitat for Humanity groups. You'll see the Saturn VUE hybrid play a key role, and the season will culminate in late August with a special Detroit episode, featuring the Saturn "Hands on Home" project.