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Nothing big, basic Solstice article...looks like parts of it are regurgitated from other articles.

From Staff and Wire Reports

The Pontiac Solstice, a sleek two-seater coming out this summer from General Motors Corp., has prospective buyers visiting showrooms -- and the car isn't even out yet.

"Every day," said Tony Holyfield, new cars sales manager at Morgan Pontiac in Shreveport, when asked if buyers are seeking the Solstice. "We have presold six and we don't have any cars yet."

The appeal: "the looks, the styling and the price," Holyfield said.

GM's performance brand already has piled up 9,000 orders for the sporty ragtop, about half the number it had planned to build this year. The Solstice is important to GM, which is reeling after a $1.1 billion first-quarter loss and is counting on new models to lift sales.

Holyfield said the new model is important to the Pontiac division as well.

"It's a bright spot for Pontiac," he said. "The division has not had a two-door roadster ... especially for the pricing. The pricing is so low for that type of car."

The base sticker price for the Solstice is $19,995. But Pontiac is addressing complaints that its dealers are asking "well above" the base sticker price, according to a memo sent to Pontiac's 2,700 U.S. dealers and obtained by The Detroit News.

The practice, while within the dealers' rights, is angering some customers who were wooed by the vehicle's low price tag, and could sour customers' experience with Pontiac for years, the memo says.

"As you sell Solstices this year, please consider more than just the near term," said the letter signed by John Larson, the general manager of Buick, Pontiac and GMC, and Mark-Hans Richer, Pontiac's marketing director. "We are at a critical point in Pontiac's resurgence and encourage a long-term perspective of the total Pontiac opportunity."

Morgan Pontiac's Holyfield said he has heard of the overcharging complaints across the country but the local dealership does not practice hiking the price on such a car.

Industry analysts say inflated dealer pricing on Solstice is a problem of GM's making. The automaker ran the first ad for the car in January during a college bowl game and has been running the ads since April after the Solstice appeared in NBC's reality program "The Apprentice." Yet the car is still not available in dealerships.

The ads have created pent-up demand for the Solstice and made it easier for dealers to play off the hype to boost prices, said Mike Chung, an auto pricing and market analyst with Edmunds.com in Santa Monica, Calif.

"Now, the buzz has literally come back to haunt them," he said.

It is not uncommon for dealers to charge above sticker for a hot new model. In the 1980s, many Mazda dealers received more than $5,000 above sticker for another sporty roadster, the Miata. And some Chrysler dealers in 2000 charged above sticker when the PT Cruiser debuted. The fuel-sipping Toyota Prius hybrid also fetches sticker-beating prices.

But Pontiac contends that Solstice's $19,995 base price, including destination fees, is a crucial piece of its marketing efforts and that the rebounding brand cannot risk alienating buyers with inflated prices.

Jim Hopson, a Pontiac spokesman, said the letter came in response to complaints about "a very few offenders" and that overcharging for the Solstice was not a widespread problem. And it has not deterred customers from seeking out the rear-wheel-drive roadster with the eye-catching curves, he said.

The strong early response to the Solstice has convinced Pontiac officials that a boldly designed vehicle can win back American car buyers who may have opted for Hondas and Toyotas in recent years. It could also help improve the image of the Pontiac brand.

In March, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz described Pontiac as "damaged," along with Buick. The comment sparked speculation that Pontiac would soon be eliminated, a notion GM immediately dismissed.
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