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June 18, 2003

USA: GM to cut extra two weeks of Saturn Ion production

General Motors will halt production of its slow-selling Saturn Ion small car for two extra weeks to cut inventories of unsold vehicles, Reuters reported.

By bcusack

General Motors will halt production of its slow-selling Saturn Ion small car for two extra weeks to cut inventories of unsold vehicles, Reuters reported.

GM will stop building the Ion at the Spring Hill, Tennessee, plant where the car is made for the weeks of June 23 and July 14, before and after the industry’s traditional two-week shutdown in early July, Saturn spokeswoman Sherrie Childers Arb told the news agency. Saturn will begin building the 2004 model Ion when production resumes the week of July 21.

“We want to adjust inventory levels so that for 2004 (model year), we minimise what’s on the ground,” Childers Arb reportedly said.

Despite high consumer incentives, sales of the Ion have been slow since the car, Saturn’s replacement for the S Series, went on sale in October 2002, Reuters said, noting that Saturn previously halted production of the Ion for two weeks in March this year.

Inventories of unsold Saturn sedans stand at 110 days’ supply, Childers Arb told Reuters. The Saturn “quad coupe” which has two small rear doors, went into production a few weeks ago and has 43 days’ of supply. Car makers typically aim to keep about 60 to 70 days’ supply of a vehicle.

Reuters said Saturn’s US sales of Ions and remaining S Series small cars totalled 49,431 for the first five months this year, down from S Series sales of 53,952 over the same time period last year.

The news agency said GM will also increase production of its Saturn Vue compact sport utility vehicle by about 10% when it starts making the new 2004 model in August.

Reuters noted that Vue sales are up 53.5% to 33,622 units this year and that GM will offer a new 3.5 litre V6 engine on all Vues this autumn, replacing the optional three litre V6.

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