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GM Jumps into Auto Show Market

February 23, 2004

DETROIT -- A move by General Motors Corp. to introduce three or four auto-show cars for the 2006 season looks likely to lure consumers with low prices and high quality. It's an unusual move for the company, which normally stays away from niche market vehicles.

The new models are the Pontiac Solstice, which is expected to compete with the Mazda Miata and Toyota MR2; an as-yet unnamed sports coupe modeled on the Saturn Curve; and the Chevrolet HHR, a high-roofed wagon based on the 1940s Chevrolet Suburban. Another possible entry for 2006 or 2007 is the Chevy Nomad, a nostalgically named and designed small wagon.

GM's new kappa architecture will provide the platform for the Solstice, Curve-like coupe and Nomad. The system allows for small runs to be produced profitably by meshing a variety of bodies with similar floor pans, engines, and transmissions.

The HHR will be produced with GM's delta architecture.

GM's strategy is to sell between 40,000 to 50,000 HHR units each year, in contrast with the company's usual target of 100,000. The Chrysler PT Cruiser (which the HHR has been compared to) sells in numbers two to three times that.

GM’s foray into low-volume vehicles can be seen as a bid for prestige, as well as a signal that the company can produce and market niche vehicles at a profit, and support these new products with rebates.

The Solstice, Nomad and HHR are all priced at or under $20,000.

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