At first glance, the skinnier sales projections for the 2006 Chevrolet HHR may seem like more bad news from General Motors. But it might be just a healthy dose of reality, which would be a good thing.
The retro-styled wagon goes on sale this fall and marketing gurus at GM now expect 60,000 sales a year, not the 80,000 to 100,000 originally projected.
For years, auto writers have joked that if you added up every automaker's sales projections the total would be at least 150 percent of the market.
If you took all the sales projections and laid them end to end Well, you get the picture.
It's enough to make anyone just a little skeptical. It also creates real world headaches.
Suppliers grumble that overly optimistic forecasts can cost them money if they can't recoup their investments, especially for unique tooling on niche vehicles. The classic complaint is the GMC Envoy XUV, which had the roof that opened so you could carry a grandfather clock upright.
The Envoy XUV was introduced in 2003 amid projections that GMC dealers would sell about 125,000 a year. It never happened. Last year, GM built only about 1/10th that many.
Part of the problem with the Envoy XUV was that the vehicle's utility seemed a little contrived. And the advertising didn't make it clear how it would fit into an owner's lifestyle, except for that one time when you needed to move a really large timepiece.
For the HHR to be a hit, Chevy's hip, lifestyle ads must accomplish what the XUV ads didn't.
The base price, which is less that $16,000, ought to help. And laying out a sensible sales goal seems like a step in the right direction.
Or maybe the marketing execs are just sandbagging?
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at