TROY, MICH. - Saturn Corp., sensing a marketing advantage, will continue to offer thermoplastic body panels on vertical surfaces for the second generation of its cars and station wagons now reaching showrooms. The 1996 Saturn is the first redesign of the exterior skin since the car was introduced for the 1991 model year. It continues to feature plastic front and rear fenders, doors, trunk and bumper covers. The hood, roof and upper deck lid are of steel.
The same materials are being used for the Saturn wagon, except for the hood and lift gate, which are of sheet molding compound.
Saturn owners like the ding, dent and rust resistance of the plastic body, spokesman Bob Tripolsky said.
``It's more of a marketing feature than we originally thought it would become,'' he said.
Troy-based Saturn has not changed its processing techniques or supply base for the redesigned thermoplastic panels, Tripolsky said. Resin suppliers for the 1996 model include Dow Plastics of Midland, Mich., and GE Plastics of Pittsfield, Mass.