DETROIT -- General Motors has kicked off a major advertising blitz for the 2007 Chevrolet Suburban, even though some auto dealers may not get the vehicle until the end of June or even July.
The SUV, which is scheduled for production in April, has been heavily promoted during Olympics coverage on NBC. Other commercials have touted the 2007 Tahoe, but some dealers may end up waiting until the end of March for that vehicle.
The Tahoe and Suburban have been restyled and re-engineered for the 2007 model year and are among the full-sized trucks that are key to General Motors' recovery. GM started shipping Tahoes in January.
Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager, said in an interview at the Chicago Auto Show this month that every dealer should have a Tahoe by March 31. The goal is for all dealers to receive at least one 2007 Tahoe or Suburban in 60 to 90 days after production starts, he said.
Which raises the question: Why advertise the Suburban now?
"There isn't anything like the Olympics" in terms of viewership, said Michael Albano, a Chevrolet spokesman. "We don't have another property like that around the same time as the launch of the vehicle."
The TV commercials "start building awareness that the new Suburban is coming," he said. The commercials say dealers are accepting orders for the Suburban.
Peper said the Tahoe-Suburban rollout timetable also will be followed for the restyled and re-engineered 2007 Avalanche SUV that goes into production this summer, and the restyled and re-engineered 2007 Silverado pickup that bows this fall.
Albano said this is standard procedure - there have been no problems with the Tahoe launch. A similar distribution program was used for the restyled and re-engineered 2006 Impala.
This is "normal ramp-up of production. You don't start full bore out of the gate," he said.
Michael Robinet, director of global forecasting at CSM Worldwide in Farmington Hills, Mich., said the Tahoe's launch appears to be trouble-free.
Automakers are more careful in proclaiming "how aggressive the launch curve is going to be," Robinet said.
"If in fact they don't meet that goal, it has come back to bite them. So I think that in this case, maybe the OEM is setting the bar relatively low, looking to outperform the launch curve."
Clay Close, dealer principal of Clay Chevrolet in Hays, Kan., said he has yet to receive his first 2007 Tahoe, although he sold nine previous-generation models last year. Previous Chevrolet launches have not been a problem, he said.
"But this Tahoe thing, I just don't get it," he said.
"In this small community, the wealthier people don't go out and buy a Mercedes because you can't get them serviced. They buy Suburbans and Tahoes. I would love to have one to sell them."
You may e-mail Rick Kranz at [email protected]