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Faulty Parts Cause Delay in Sale of Saturn VUE SUVs With VTi Transmission System

ED GARSTEN AP, wrote that the introduction of a transmission designed to save fuel in Saturn VUE sport utility vehicles has been delayed until sometime this spring because of faulty parts, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The VTi, a continuously variable transmission, was to be installed during the first quarter of this year but was stopped during the initial validation process, Saturn spokesman Michael Gardner said.

"We noticed a couple of parts not operating properly, did further tests and decided we need to do further work," he said.

Unlike conventional manual or automatic transmissions, a CVT has an infinite number of gear ratios making it more adaptable to different driving conditions and smoother shifting.

The result is a 7-percent improvement in fuel economy over conventional four-speed automatic transmissions, Saturn says.

Saturn, a division of General Motors Corp., began selling the VUE last November and had hoped the VTi transmission would help set it apart from the competition in the crowded small SUV market that includes the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe.

The automaker expects to meet its sales target for the VUE of 50,000 units despite the delay in the introduction of the VTi transmission, Gardner said.

During the first two months of the year, the automaker sold 6,382 VUEs.

Aside from the VUE, the company is introducing a revamped version of its mid-sized L-series and will debut the Ion, the replacement for the S-series small car, at the New York Auto Show later this month.