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GM aims for Sky to boost Saturn sales

First Cadillac, then Chevrolet, now Saturn.

After spending billions to revamp two of its most storied brands, General Motors Corp. has turned its attention to one of its newer makes _ an estimated $3-billion effort to inject some excitement in the Saturn lineup and create a portfolio that appeals to a broader audience.

Saturn's newest addition, a sporty roadster called the Sky, will make its debut at next week's media preview for the North American International Auto Show at downtown's Cobo Center.

The car is scheduled for production in 2006 and is expected to carry a price tag of less than $25,000.

Besides the Sky, Saturn plans to add a new mid-size car and a larger sport utility vehicle by the end of 2006, doubling the size of its portfolio.

Saturn also is set to show a concept vehicle called the Aura at next week's show that company officials say provides a sneak peak of its upcoming mid-size sedan.

"This is an aggressive move and growth strategy we're putting behind the brand," said Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak. "What people want from us is a growing portfolio and a dynamic design."

Saturn's lineup consists of three models: the Vue SUV, the Ion compact sedan and coupe and the Relay minivan. GM decided last year to stop production of Saturn's L-300 mid-size car.

To appeal to performance-focused drivers, Saturn created the more powerful, sportier Red Line series for the Vue and Ion models. The Ion Red Line boasts 205 horsepower, the Vue Red Line 250 horsepower. GM says the Sky's look will influence Saturn's future lineup.

The brand, once billed as "a different kind of company" making "a different kind of car," could use a boost. U.S. sales for 2004 were off 22 percent from a year ago.

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