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Opel Meriva concept
GM's huge turnaround investment in Saturn has been slow to show fruit in the form of a big sales increase. An economic downturn hasn't helped a bit.

But a weak and unprofitable replacement for the small Saturn Ion isn't helping either. Saturn needs a replacement for the Ion's replacement that's American-made and tuned to American tastes.

Otherwise, the pieces for Saturn's revival are mostly in place. Saturn's line-up is all new, featuring models shared with GM's European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. More hybrids are on the way, too. A full-hybrid Saturn Vue is coming next year, and a plug-in hybrid Vue is expected in 2010.

But the Astra, the hatchback that replaced the Ion sedan, was designed for, and is built by, Europeans alone. The Astra's entertainment and air conditioning controls are awkward, to say the least. Worst of all, since paying factory workers in Euros costs more than paying them in dollars these days, the Astra is expensive compared to the competition.

GM has said nothing about bringing something like the Opel Meriva concept car, shown at this year's Geneva Motor Show, to the states, and nothing has been reported. But it presents one interesting option for adaptation, if U.S. consumer tastes continue to embrace small, functional van-like vehicles like this, similar to the Mazda5.

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Last updated August 03 2008: 9:45 AM ET
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