SAN FRANCISCO -- General Motors is dialing back its sales forecast for the retro-styled 2006 Chevrolet HHR wagon that goes on sale this fall.
During an interview at the Los Angeles auto show in January, Gary Cowger, then president of GM North America, said Chevrolet expected to sell 80,000 to 100,000 units annually.
The revised goal is about 60,000 a year.
Jim Campbell, director of Chevrolet car marketing, revealed the lower goal at a press event here. He would not give reasons for the cut.
"If we can press higher, we will," Campbell said. "We have some hard work to do."
The HHR draws on styling cues first seen on the 1949 Chevrolet Suburban. It shares GM's front-drive Delta vehicle architecture with the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion.
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Some journalists have criticized the HHR as being a Chrysler PT Cruiser copycat. And they note that buyer interest in retro vehicles has waned: Ford says it will end Thunderbird production this summer, and the base PT Cruiser has a $4,500 dealer rebate.
Campbell said rivals of the HHR include the Honda Element, Scion xB and the PT Cruiser. Sales are more likely to match the two Japanese models, he said.
In 2004, 47,013 xB vehicles and 59,927 Elements were sold in the United States. Chrysler sold 115,955 PT Cruisers in the United States last year.
"We want to be competitive in the range where the xB and Element are," said Campbell. "Listen, if we can do more, we are going to do more. We are looking for every incremental sale we can get at GM right now."
GM has set a $15,990 base price, including shipping, for the HHR.
Each Chevrolet dealership is expected to have at least one HHR in stock by mid-October. Initial allocation will be based on two factors:
1. A dealership's Aveo, Cobalt and Equinox sales.
2. Scion xB, Honda Element and PT Cruiser sales in that dealership's market area.
Said Campbell: "This will create a distribution pattern where the Western and Southeast regions and the coastal areas will have an opportunity to get a pretty good shot of the initial production."
You may e-mail Rick Kranz at [email protected]