GM Ups Its Losses on the Saturn Astra

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Can someone please explain this to me? To field a credible small car stateside, GM has decided to import the relatively diminutive Opel Astra from Europe into the U.S. and re-badge it a Saturn. Because of the unfavorable exchange rate between the U.S. and the Eurozone, and the fact that the Astra will be screwed together in a high-cost country (Belgium), GM will make a loss on every Astra sold. So the more Astras they sell, the more money they'll lose. And yet, Just-Auto [sub] reports that GM has decided to increase the number of Astras headed stateside from 30k to 40k per year. Originally, we heard that the Opel Astra was a "placeholder;" if it sold in sufficient quantities, GM would transfer production to the U.S. But building cars in the U.S. isn't any cheaper than assembling them in the land of mayonnaise on your french fries. It can't be a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) pleasing deal, as the imported Astra wouldn't count towards GM's domestic CAFE averages. Is it a union thing? A world car thing? A stupid ass hubris WTF GM thing?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Steve Biro Steve Biro on Oct 31, 2007

    Count me as another who wishes GM luck on the Astra project. The car doesn't look bad and is the first GM product in a long time that I would seriously consider buying. I don't need/want a four door, so that sporty two-door hatch will get a very close look from me when it gets here. My interest kind of proves GM isn't making a total mistake by bringing the Astra over to the States. The question is, are there enough of us? I'm interested to learn what kind of reliability rep the Astra has earned in Europe. By the way, unless I'm mistaken, GM plans to close that plant in Belgium where it currrently makes the Astra when that model is updated.

  • SavageATL SavageATL on Oct 31, 2007

    Ok, someone commented that GM builds interesting cars in Brazil. And the last Brazilian car to be imported to the U.S. was the VW Fox. Also the Chevette was sourced from Brazil, and if you had one of those early-mid '80's Sunbirds that overheated, it came from- - - Brazil. Apparently there is no Brazilian Portuguese equivalent for "Build Quality." Belgium is also the country responsible for high gravity beer, and makes the best beer in the world, and chocolate, and mayonnaise on chips/fries with mussels. Not famous for making cars. Has GM EVER made a decent small car? Look at the record, from the Corvair to the Vega, -Monza, -Cavalier, -Chevette-, Sprint, -Spectrum, -Metro, -Aveo, -Ion. GM has an unblemished, 45+ year record of putting small amounts of crap on wheels, calling it a car, telling us, "It's different this time." Roger Smith is still right, you're still better off buying a two year old Buick. They should continue making trucks and go back to making Roadmasters and other land yachts, at least someone-somewhere- wants those, they were profitable, and GM knows how to make them.

  • Kjc117 Kjc117 on Oct 31, 2007

    It works as long as GM regains market share. It's a risk but with no decent small car platform to challenge Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, KIa, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, etc..they have no choice. Although the Opel/Aura didn't bring in Accord and Camry buyers.

  • Fallout11 Fallout11 on Nov 05, 2007

    Perhaps they're planning on jacking up the price after the first (intro) model year?