Renault to Help Mercedes with New Smart Vehicle, Plans Return To U.S.

Richard Read from the Car Connection: No one can deny that French automaker Renault is on the move these days. In addition to its work with Nissan on electric vehicles, the company is in talks with Mercedes-Benz to develop a new model for Mercedes' Smart brand. And here in the U.S., the company is chatting with Roger Penske about selling Renault-badged vehicles on American lots alongside Saturn automobiles - vehicles that Renault's Samsung subsidiary may begin producing after General Motors pulls the plug in 2011. Not only is Penske interested in having Renault's Korean arm, Samsung, manufacture Saturns in the future (after they stop rolling off the GM line in 2011), but his dealerships may also sell Renault-badged vehicles alongside them. These discussions are very, very preliminary, but we wouldn't be surprised if they firmed up in the near future.

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Future Models Will Give Saturn a 'Boost'

Saturn says it expects about a 10% increase in U.S. sales next year from the total expected for 2002, thanks to an updated and expanded lineup. Jill Lajdziak, vice president of Saturn Sales, Service, and Marketing, told reporters at a media preview for the new Ion line of small cars that Saturn is on track to set a new sales record this year, with sales of between 285,000 and 300,000 vehicles.