The Saturn division of General Motors Corp. on Oct. 8 said it will name a new line of small cars "Ion" when they go on sale in late 2002, according to Reuters.
The Ion replaces the S-Series, whose sales have fallen 12 percent this year amid tougher competition from foreign automakers. While Saturn has tried to update the look of the S-Series sedan and coupe over the past few years, the models have not received a complete redesign since their introduction in 1990.
According to Jill Lajdziak, vice president of Saturn sales, the Ion will be slightly larger than the S-Series, with all new parts. The Ion is expected to be based on GM's Delta small car platform, which is being developed by its Opel unit in Germany.
The Ion name "suggests energy and movement," Lajdziak said on Oct. 8. "It connotes precision."
The Ion will join the Vue sport utility vehicle that goes on sale in a few months and the L-Series midsize cars in Saturn's lineup.
The Ion coupe will hit the market first and a sedan will follow closely thereafter, according to a Saturn press release. The replacement for the S series will be the first U.S. vehicle built on GM's front-wheel-drive Delta platform, which is being developed in Europe by GM's
Adam Opel AG subsidiary.
Just as Saturn hopes that its Vue SUV, due later this year, will boost its overall sales, it hopes the Ion name and entry-level vehicle redesign will "re-energize" the entry-level
segment, according to a company press release.
The new name is expected to appeal to younger buyers and be associated closely with the Vue, the press release said.