The Phantom Malibu
It turns out that the Malibu isn’t so much “the car you can’t ignore” as is the car you cannot see.
GM has announced that the car beat its first month sales target handily. They sold 3000 of them. The first month sales target had been only 500.
Hundred. Yes, hundred.
Moreover, GM’s pretty pleased with that because most Chevy dealers don’t have a single Malibu in stock.
General Motors supported the Malibu launch, during the World Series, with the first phase of a $150 million advertising campaign.
You’d have thought they’d have enough in dealer stock for customers to come see and drive one, even if some might have to order one rather than buy from stock. This is, after all, supposed to be the volume selling vehicle that turns the Chevy nameplate into a player in the car market again.
It is as though General Motors had forgotten the basics of selling cars.
Back in the sixties, when new model introduction every fall actually meant new models that looked different from those of previous years (even when they really weren’t), dealers began receiving the new models a month before the September introduction. All new models were provided in limited quantity in some instances, but every dealer at least had enough to stock the showroom and put a few in demonstrator service. After all, a test drive has always been the cornerstone of car sales.
GM is actually boasting that first month Malibu sales exceeded expectations. To put that boast in some perspective, they sold about the same number of Corvettes and Malibus that month. Moreover, there are more Corvettes in dealer stock than Malibus.
How’d this happen? GM isn’t saying. But, it doesn’t seem understandable. It isn’t like production problems should have delayed building the cars in sufficient quantity. The Saturn Aura has been in production at least a year, and is fundamentally the same car as the Malibu.
Nor is it rocket science that you need the cars in the showroom when you introduce them. When the Mustang was introduced, that was the biggest auto ad campaign to date. People flocked to the showrooms, and they saw the car. And the Mustang set real sales records for the first year.
But, perhaps Chevrolet is taking a page from the Scion book of sales. Scion is reducing sales this year, to keep the brand’s cachet as exclusive.
That’s an interesting idea.
Chevrolet is the auto of exclusivity.