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http://www.freep.com/money/autonews/gm-bar130e_20050930.htm

GM likely to increase output of retro HHR

September 30, 2005

BY MICHAEL ELLIS
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Despite being derided by critics as the "me-too PT Cruiser," the Chevrolet HHR has enjoyed surprising success, General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said Thursday. GM likely will have to increase production of the retro-looking vehicle even after nearly doubling volume already, he said.

CHEVY HHR Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $16,990 for the four-door LT model.
EPA mileage ratings: 23 m.p.g. city/30 m.p.g. highway for automatic.
The competition: Chrysler PT Cruiser, Ford Focus wagon, Pontiac Vibe GT, Toyota Matrix XRS
Styling inspired by: 1949 Chevy Suburban and Chevy SSR convertible pickup.
Same family as: Chevy Cobalt and Saturn Ion.
Where it's built: Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.
Selling points: Low price, good fuel economy, cool styling, useful interior features.
Trendy feature: Input jack for auxiliary (iPod/MP3) players.
Source: General Motors Corp. Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan contributed to this report.

"HHR is even exceeding my expectations, and my expectations were very high," Lutz told reporters following a media event at GM's Milford proving grounds.

The HHR, whose bulging fenders and large grille evoke images of the 1949 Chevrolet Suburban, has had strong sales success in California, a market dominated by Asian automakers.

U.S. sales of the HHR hit 5,760 in September, only its second month in the market, despite being in short supply.

GM has increased its production goal for the built-in-Mexico wagon to 120,000 a year, and more might be needed, Lutz said. "We'll probably have to go up from there," he said.

Late last year, Lutz had projected annual sales of the HHR in the range of 80,000 to 100,000. GM later scaled back that estimate to 60,000 to 80,000 a year, but since arriving on the market, the HHR has sold better than executives had expected -- just as the Chrysler Group's PT Cruiser did.

GM is quick to point out that the HHR, which gets 23 miles per gallon city/30 m.p.g. highway in EPA fuel economy tests, is bigger than the PT Cruiser but uses less gas. The PT Cruiser GT gets 19 m.p.g. city/25 m.p.g. highway.

The initial success of the HHR must be especially gratifying to Lutz.

After many automotive analysts criticized the HHR as arriving too late to market and looking too much like the PT Cruiser, he angrily told reporters at the Los Angeles auto show in January that the HHR will be "sensationally successful."
 

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Chris89gta
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727 Posts
Damn... maybe they actually hit on a car that will outdo production levels and expectations!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would drive one. Would make a kick butt daily driver :D

Plus did you see Rides where they stuffed a turbo on one, and Year One actually put an LS2 and RWD in another one? LOL
 

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http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=103332

Chevy HHR is hot, so GM raises target again, looks at boosting production

JAMIE LAREAU | Automotive News
Posted Date: 10/10/05
DETROIT -- General Motors believes it has a hit with the new Chevrolet HHR wagon but must figure out how to build more of them.

"What we're trying to do is ramp up the capacity of the components and the plant so that we can build without having to go build another plant for it," says Lori Queen, GM's vehicle line executive for small cars.

Robert Lutz, GM's vice chairman for product development, says GM plans to produce 120,000 HHRs annually. Production will "probably go up from there," Lutz adds.

Initially, Chevrolet expected to sell 80,000 to 100,000 units annually. In June, GM revised that goal to about 60,000 a year, said Jim Campbell, director of Chevrolet car marketing. Last month, Queen insisted the plan always was to build 100,000 HHRs annually.

Queen says GM is running maximum overtime to build the vehicles at its Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, plant.

She shies away from Lutz's 120,000 annual production target. "I'm hoping we can, but I don't know," Queen says. "I'm trying to understand if I can get to that level." Queen says she must determine whether components and plant capacity are available.

Last month, Chevrolet sold 8,602 HHRs. Sales of the wagon outpaced those of the Scion xB (4,459) and Honda Element (4,988). Chrysler sold 11,742 PT Cruisers last month.

The HHR starts at $15,990, including shipping.

According to the J.D. Power Information Network, the largest bloc of buyers -- 42.7 percent -- were Chevrolet owners. But Lutz says nearly half of the HHR sales comes from owners of competitors' vehicles.

"Any time we get that, we know a vehicle is working for us," Lutz says. "The top markets for it are Southern California, Houston and Dallas, which are areas where it's always hard to achieve breakthrough with a domestic passenger vehicle."
 
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