Mitsubishi to supply cars to Saturn dealers?

Mitsubishi, whose sales are down significantly this year, might have found the partner it needs in soon-to-be-former General Motors unit Saturn. The Japanese automaker has been talking with potential Saturn buyers about supplying Mitsubishi-built, Saturn-badged cars to fill the brand's showrooms.

Sources close to Saturn say that Mitsubishi, among other automakers, is actively involved with discussions with several of Saturn's potential suitors about supplying vehicles. GM has said it will build Saturns through the end of 2009 and would be willing to sell vehicles to Saturn's new buyer for a period thereafter.

A source familiar with the talks says that one of the two or three serious Saturn buyers has been in talks with Mitsubishi, according to The Detroit News.

Mitsubishi has long been seeking a way to boost its North American production - and, if the deal works out, this could be just what it needs. The automaker recently signed a deal with the UAW that will see production continue at its underutilized Normal, Illinois, plant. Previously, the automaker's CEO has said that the automaker might boost export production in Normal.

There is no indication of what vehicles Mitsubishi could build for Saturn. The automaker builds the Endeavor, Galant and Eclipse in Normal, though it could also import cars from another factory.