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NHTSA closed probe into steering issue in 335,000 Saturn Ions

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed a four-year investigation into 335,000 Saturn Ions (MY 2004-2007) after General Motors recalled them in March. The agency initially opened a preliminary evaluation of the power steering issue in January 2010. The Ion was among the 1.5 million cars that GM recalled on March 31 for potential loss of power steering.

The cars are also part of an unrelated recall of faulty ignition switches tied to at least 13 deaths. When the power-steering recall was announced, GM global vehicle safety chief Jeff Boyer admitted that the US carmaker had previously recalled other cars with the same issue and that GM "did not do enough."

NHTSA said it found 4,787 complaints and 30,560 warranty claims related to the Ion power steering recall issue, which means a complaint rate of 14.3 incidents per thousand vehicles and a warranty claim rate of 9.1 percent.

Read the entire article NHTSA closed probe into steering issue in 335,000 Saturn Ions

NHTSA is probing Saturn Ion over power-steering recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also probing the Saturn Ion into whether General Motors should have included it in a 2010 recall over power-steering glitches. The Ion is one the vehicles included in the recent recall over faulty ignition switches. At least 846 complaints have been filed with the NHTSA and about 3,500 reports with GM, according to agency, which commenced its investigation in December 2010.

Owners of Ions (2004-2007 model years) claimed they experienced sudden loss of power-steering assistance, an issue that caused GM to recall over a million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 sedans four years ago. GM told NHTSA that the Ion’s electric power-steering system is identical to that fitted in the Cobalt and G5.

NHTSA disclosed that it managed to replicate the problem in an Ion and Cobalt. NHTSA, however, has not forced GM to recall the Ion. “We cannot understand the delay in recalling Saturn Ions, particularly in light of your recent statement that the ignition switch recall ‘took too long,’” Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center, wrote in a letter to GM chief executive Mary Barra.

Read the entire article NHTSA is probing Saturn Ion over power-steering recall

GM to build four-cylinder Ecotech engines at former Saturn plant

Production of General Motors Co.’s next-generation four-cylinder Ecotec engine will be done at its former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn.

Designed to provide reduced noise and friction, the Ecotec 2.4-liter engines have an output of 182 hp and 172 pounds-feet of torque. In particular, the engine’s direct-fuel-injection offer a 25% decrease of its cold-start hydrocarbon emissions.

2011 Ecotec 1.4L I-4 VVT Turbo GM claims that the all-aluminum engine is equipped with chain-driven, dual-overhead camshafts; variable valve timing; electronic throttle control; and automatic tension adjusters for the timing chain.

Read the entire article GM to build four-cylinder Ecotech engines at former Saturn plant

Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice might be saved

Pontiac Solstice, for those who signify an interest in those niche products, thereby providing fans with hope for the models. GM is open to proposals for the plant from anyone with a workable plan. With the June 1 government restructuring deadline looming, GM is axing brands, factories and dealers just to meet it.

Both the Sky and Solstice convertible came on the scene in 2006 and became instant hits due to their performance ratings and affordable price tags.

The late addition is the Solstice hardtop which was released just last month. Both cars come with front-mounted powerplant, RWD and share common underpinnings and turbo-charged 4-cylinder unit that produces 260hp.

Read the entire article Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice might be saved

As earlier reported, Roger Penske, the former racecar driver and owner of the second largest dealership in the US, has become the new owner of GM's Saturn brand. In an interview, Penske revealed that he plans to focus on making electric vehicles as the main goal of Saturn brand under his proprietorship.

He also silenced speculations that Saturn dealers may be forced to vend cars with the Smart brand, saying that Saturn showrooms will certainly not sell this brand. The new Saturn owner said that the government's focus on funding alternative-powered cars may thrust him to really focus on EVs under Saturn.

The agreement with GM provides for the continued production of the Aura, Outlook and Vue for Saturn at least for the succeeding three years, after which Penske can negotiate with GM to continue production models. The new owner also seeks to fill the lineup of Saturn since the Astra hatch and Sky roadster will be lost to him.

Read the entire article Saturn will not sell the Smart brand, says Penske

All Saturn dealers are holding their breath for the possible takeover of Roger Penske, an auto magnate who saved Detroit Diesel and is now seeking to take control of the cast-off General Motors brand.

It is believed that a decision could be made as early as this week. However, Penske and his team at Penske Automotive Group in suburban Detroit have declined to discuss the takeover until it is completed, says Autonews.

It is believed that if Penske gets Saturn, he will shave dealer profits, have less generous operating rules and opt for a smaller factory organization to support it. However, the dealers know that if Saturn could be saved then only Penske can do it.

Read the entire article Saturn dealers waiting for Roger Penske to make its move

Saturn dealers throughout the US were saddened after Penske Automotive Group pulled out of negotiations to acquire Saturn, a segment of General Motors. Saturn's fate is gloomy as GM said that the brand will be discontinued.

The termination of the talks has taken the dealers by surprise since it was expected that a deal would be entered this week and that Saturn will be revived under Penske's management.

After months of hard work by Saturn's employees and retailers, Penske actually decided to stop negotiations "because of the inability to source new products beyond what it had asked GM to build on contract."

Read the entire article GM to phase out Saturn after Penske dropped the deal

Due to the risk of a fuel leakage, General Motors is recalling about 53,000 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Saturn Ion and Pontiac G5 vehicles, which were sold in the states of Arizona, Texas, California, Florida and Nevada.

A problem has been detected in the plastic supply or return port on the modular reservoir assembly. It is feared that a fire may result due to fuel leakage that could be exposed to an ignition source.

In more cases, the leak will adversely affect the car's performance and mileage. At the NHTSA website, GM said that the plastic supply or the return port on the modular reservoir assembly may crack. If either of these ports develops a crack, fuel will then leak. When the crack gets larger, fuel will be seen dripping onto the ground.

Read the entire article GM recalling around 53,000 Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion and Pontiac G5 vehicles

To push out the remaining Saturn inventory, General Motors Co. is launching a new marketing campaign and a set of incentives. GM hopes to be able to wind down the brand within three months, according to Susan Docherty, GM's vice president of U.S. sales, during a sales conference call.

As of the end of October, there are 9,400 Saturn units in stock. Docherty said that she does not anticipate any hurdles to selling the remaining inventory quickly.

Reportedly, Saturn sales came to a halt last month after a deal to sell the brand to Penske Automotive Group failed to prosper.

Read the entire article GM launching new marketing campaign to push out its remaining Saturn inventory

As Saturn stores are winding down their businesses, General Motors Co. has decided to hold off its plan to send Saturn parts to all GM dealerships in mid-November.

Putting this off retains the exclusivity of Saturn stores, according to John Pitre, general manager of Motor City Auto Center in Bakersfield, Calif. GM had initially told Saturn dealers that it would start distributing parts for the brand's vehicles to all GM dealerships by mid-November.

But now, it's unclear when those dealerships will get Saturn parts. Meanwhile, GM has said it wants dealers to sell the remaining 9,400 Saturn vehicles in stock by early next year.

Read the entire article General Motors will hold off sending Saturn parts to all dealerships

Volkswagen has entered a deal with SL America Corp., a former supplier to General Motors's Saturn vehicles, to build automatic shifter assemblies on VW programs in Tennessee and Mexico. Based in Clinton, Tenn., SL America Corp. has been a longstanding supplier to the Saturn line, which was discontinued as part of GM's 2009 reorganization.

Under this deal, SL, the US subsidiary of Korea's SL Corp., formerly known as Samlip Industrial Co., will supply both VW programs and will be producing parts for Saturn and other GM vehicles.

VW will use the assemblies on its new mid-sized sedan that will be produced in a plant that's currently under construction in Chattanooga, Tenn. This program is set to be launched in mid-2011.

Read the entire article Volkswagen taps a former Saturn supplier