Lutz Tells Automotive News that the Poor Currency Exchange Rate is Hurting Saturn Astra Sales

General Motors says the imported Saturn Astra has become a victim of the weak U.S. dollar. The Belgium-built 3- and 5-door hatchbacks, while critically acclaimed, have suffered from slow sales since their North American launch last January. GM vice chairman Bob Lutz bluntly told Automotive News in an article published this morning that "the car is priced too high."

"GM decided to import the Belgium-made Astra when the value of the U.S. dollar was stronger," the trade magazine reported Lutz as saying at a recent press event in Chicago. "At that time, the starting list price was planned at around $15,500. And it would have been marginally profitable."

"Well, I have to tell you, the price is no longer $15,500, and the profit is no longer there, either," Lutz said. That unfortunately has hampered GM's efforts of "being very aggressive with incentives or marketing the unit," said Mark LeNeve, vice president of GM North American sales,service, and marketing.

Rumors suggest that the next-generation Saturn Astra will be built stateside to minimize any impact due to a fluctuation in the currency exchange rate. According to Automotive News, Saturn had hoped to sell 25,000 Astras per year, but only 7,914 had been sold though the end of August. However the company is still hopeful that the Saturn Astra's month-over-month sales increases will continue. Saturn retailers sold 1,555 Astras in July and 1,994 in August. "If the August sales figure could be sustained, the Astra would be back on pace with expectations," LeNeve told the magazine.

Source: Automotive News