Cadillac Cateras are flowing back to dealers after a lull in April.
Deliveries were delayed by a problem with new side airbags, which were not offered when the Catera went on sale in October.
After equipping 'several thousand' Cateras with the side bags, Cadillac discovered the bags were not calibrated properly, Cadillac spokesman Tom Wilkinson said.
Some dealers said Cadillac employees told them the bags were deploying by themselves.
'We had always planned to have side airbags by midyear, but there were last-minute glitches with the calibrating system,' Wilkinson said. Cadillac removed the side airbags before the affected models reached dealers. 'There was a little bit of shortage in April. It slowed things down. but there were some deliveries,' Wilkenson said.
He said the division hopes to have the side bags in Cateras for the 1998 model year.
Catera sales were 1,858 in April, down from 2,291 in March. April was the first month Catera sales did not top those of the previous month.
Cadillac sales totaled 12,350 in April, down 13 percent from April 1996. Through April, sales were down 2.6 percent from last year.
Dealers said the Catera is helping sales. 'We're doing real well with the Catera,' said Mike Fannin, general manager of Lund Cadillac Co. in Phoenix.
He said the problem did not hurt inventory too badly, 'but we probably could have sold more if we had had them; the most encouraging thing is that we're getting the demographics of luxury import buyers.'
At Charles Dalgleish Cadillac in Detroit, salesman John Catchings said 90 percent of Catera customers are young, professional females.
Don Lucas, owner of the Lucas Dealership Group (Cadillac-Saturn-BMW-Honda-Acura-Mercedes-Oldsmobile) in San Jose, Calif., said Cateras represent 40 percent of the sales at his two Cadillac dealerships, and the buyers are 15 to 20 years younger than traditional Cadillac buyers.
The Catera is produced by GM Europe's Adam Opel AG. It is a sister car to the Opel Omega MV6, and is built in Germany.
Dave Nottoli, Catera brand manager, told Automotive News last October the division expected to sell 25,000 the first full calendar year. In the first four months of 1997, Catera sales were 8,054.
Staff Reporter Jim Henry contributed to this report.