Saturn May Share Wilmington Plant With Buick

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Buick may join Saturn, Saab, Chevrolet, and Pontiac in building a midsize car based on General Motors' new midsize Epsilon platform. It would be the fourteenth GM model to use the global Epsilon architecture. If the car is approved for production, it may be built alongside Saturn's next generation midsize vehicle in Wilmington, Delaware beginning in 2007. The proposed model would be smaller than Buick's current Regal and Century.

A GM manager told Automotive News that Buick "has been looking for products in a number of areas, and that is one of them. But there is nothing approved. There are no funds committed" for such a model. However, if the car is built sources project sales could reach 65,000 units annually. Workers at the Wilmington would welcome the additional capacity; the L-Series has yet to reach initial sales projections.

Saturn's next midsize car, codenamed 'Transponder', is due out in 2005-06. The latest rumors indicate that the car will be initially available only as a sport-wagon, similar to the Opel Signum and Malibu MAXX. A sedan version may be offered later. The Transponder is expected to be the first Saturn built without polymer body-side panels. Instead, the car will feature a more traditional steel body. While Saturn owners have always raved about the durability of their car's plastic skins, the media has been less than kind to them in road test reviews. They often cite the somewhat larger panel gaps as a sign of inferior workmanship. The gaps are necessary in order to let the polymer expand and contract as the temperature changes.

Source: Automotive News

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