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Saturn, General Motors Corp.'s $3 billion attempt to build a quality small car to compete with the best imports, is running into early production problems and pinching the finances of its already beleaguered parent.

Detroit-based GM, which officially began selling the cars in October, has slowed production to correct quality problems in some of the vehicles.

As a result, its Spring Hill, Tenn., plant produced only 2,162 cars in its first four months of operation. It had been projecting production of as many as 17,000 cars by year-end.

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