No 2009 Astra for U.S. Customers, 2010 Model Due Later this Year with New Options

If you've been on the lookout for a 2009 Saturn Astra, you can stop looking (that is unless you live in Canada, where Saturn is reportedly selling them). Due to the large number of 2008 Astras still in stock - about 5,500 units - Saturn is canceling plans to build a '09 model for the U.S. market. "We feel we have adequate stock of 2008 Astras already," Saturn spokesman, Steve Janisse, told Automotive News. "Since there were no major product changes for 2009, we're content with what we have on the ground here."

The dollar's unfavorable exchange rate with the Euro apparently cuts GM's margin on the Belgium-built Astra so low that "it makes it difficult to offer significant incentives," writes AN. "That, combined with Saturn focusing its marketing dollars more on the Aura sedan and the Vue crossover, plus the general industry slowdown, contributed to slow Astra sales."

A '10 model is funded and will be available later this year, however the exact timing of its arrival is in question. AutoBlog reports that the 2010 "is scheduled and on track for a spring roll-out." However, Automotive News says Opel will only resume building Astras for Saturn "in late summer or early fall as a 2010 model." Saturn retailers sold a little more than 1,100 Astras per month in November and December last year. Assuming that sales rate holds steady for the foreseeable future, Saturn has enough 2008 Astras on hand to last until June, making the AutoBlog report a more likely scenario.

While the 2010 will largely be a carry-over model, sources tell that an auxiliary radio port will likely be offered, along with redesigned cupholders. XM radio may also be an option.

Sources: Automotive News, AutoBlog

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General Motors 363 Asset Sale Approved by US Bankruptcy Court

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General Motors achieved another milestone in its reinvention last night when Judge Robert E. Gerber of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the sale of substantially all of General Motors Corporation's assets to NGMCO, an entity funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.