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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Many posts have been taking Pontiac to task for "launching" a roadster in the "winter" (October). So I thought I would take a little look at sales figures that are available to see how the roadster market actually looks. Been working on this for a little while, no dramatic finds but some pockets of interesting numbers.

Source is The Automotive News Data Center monthly sales charts. Looked just back two years, 2003 and 2004 and first 4 months of 2005. Took the Pontiac 11 competative makes list that is used for the market potential allocation adjustment. Could only look at the roadsters that are only come as roadsters (Miata, MR2, S2000, Z4, and Eclipse). The charts do not break out sales per body style for cars that come both ways (350Z, Mini Cooper, Beetle, Mustang, TT, and Crossfire). Now I am not do know a lot about these car as Pontiac hasn't had to worry about them, so not sure if there are factors that may be effecting these number. Although I do know that Mitsubishi has had their challenges, which can be seen in the Eclipse Spyder sales figures. But here is some info.


Roadster Market
I believe I have read posts that quote Pontiac as saying the roadster market is a 100,000 units per year market. Now this is in a 16,000,000-17,000,000+ per year total market. So we can see those worried about a delay effecting GM's market share rebuilding, can see the roadster market isn't the place to do it. It is all image building. These 5 accounted for 52,900 sales in 2003 and 40,331 sales in 2004. Half the yearly drop off came from the BMW Z4.


Best Selling Model
Each month in 2003, April-October of 2004, and March-April of 2005, the BMW Z4 has been the number one seller of the 5.
January-March of 2004, top dog was the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder.
November 2004-February 2005, the crown rested with the Mazda Miata MX5.
Those three suffled around at the top with number 4 going to the Honda S2000 and the Toyota MR2 Spyder always brought up the rear.

"Winter"/October Launch
Many people have felt that an October launch is bad. Lets forget for a moment that all the cars coming are already sold, and look at some figures for the two most popular models.

BMW Z4
As the sales leader, lets look here first. In 2003, October was their number 3 month for sales. Their best? try December. And even November outsold September.
In 2004 October stepped back to number 4.

Mazda Miata MX5
Nothing as dramatic as the BMW but in 2003 October was their number 6 month.

On the whole October 2003 was 8% of yearly roadster sales and October 2004 was 7%, so it carried its share of the load. People will buy roadster when they want. A new model available from 2,700 dealers that didn't have one to sell before should be able to carry its share of the yearly sales load also. But again in the Solstice's case every one of the cars being built for the first several months may have started out as a "sold" order.

Best Selling Month
Ok, here is what you have all been waiting for, or at least the three minutes you have spent reading this far :) . In the better year of 2003 it was..............................April followed by May. For the down year of 2004 it was March followed by April. So it isn't the summer months that are important as posts have speculated. July & August have been #6 & #8 for BMW both years for example.


There is actually nothing that I found to really move any one off their opinion of the best time to launch a roadster. (But I put all the time in on the research so thought I would post anyways :lol: ) But they do sell in every month and for its first Fall-Winter, Solstice will be going from "sold" unit sales.

So perhaps in conclusion, I guess you could say, if you can't build them in the Spring ( and there was no way Solstice production could have been ready for Spring 2005), perhaps you are better off having a giant promotion and early order program during the best selling months :) .


I am starting to fell like the Crimson Avenger ( :thumbs: ) with the length of these posts. :lol:
 

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Looks like Pontiac did their homework with the EOP in April.
 

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As long as the EOP doesn't turn into an FLOP (Failed - Late on Production)
 

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Roadster sales should pretty much fall hand in hand with motorcycle sales. In northern State and Canada they fall off during cold months where in warmer climates they stay steady year round. Sort of like selling a snowmobile in Florida.

Not a scientific annalysis but I don't think Pontiac cares to much about time of year release. I am willing to bet that if you did market area demographics for roadsters you would find the vast majority are sold in warm climate regions year round.
 

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PAS22 hit on something with his last post too. Ok, so Pontiac misses what everyone up north is calling the all important Roadster months of Summer. As we've seen already the southern/warmer states seem to be getting more cars then the northern states. We all know there's the allocation formula too for where allocations are going. Pontiac I'm betting knows where and when they can best sell their car. So yes unfortunately people up north aren't going to get as many cars right now, but I don't think Pontiac is going to have an issue selling all the cars they're going to produce. From talking to several of the dealers around here they're getting a good # of cars and they've already sold three times as many cars as they have allocations.

So in essence I'm trying to say Pontiac will really not have any issue moving whatever cars they can produce whenever they come out. As SD has shown cars selling in either Summer or Fall really doesn't impact overall sales too much apparently. Also this is an extremely small market so the sales themselves wont impact Pontiac's bottom line very much. The only real issues will be those people who want them now, but wont be able to get them till Fall instead of Summer. Which might make a couple people drop their orders, but there's plenty of people behind them who want one it shouldn't impact things too much.
 

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Interest is highest in the summer

I've owned and sold three convertibles and interest always seem sto be highest in the spring and early summer (in Kansas.)

I always been able to get a premium during the spring and I could always find more bargains in the winter.

Jeeps and 4 wheelers always go for a premium when the first snowpiles appear.

But who really cares at GM. They have created a demand that far exceeds capacity. Sales should be highest when they have the capacity. Doesn't BMW is has a controlled shortage as well?
 

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Very interesting data--especially sales figures for Oct/Nov/Dec

Bravo, Small Dealer! Often, a lengthly post is required to express a complex idea in a way that is sound and convincing (provided others read carefully). It is that wealth of background information that changes a post from mere opinion to a supportable conclusion.

Well done! :thumbs:

Now, many of the respondents still adhere (though less boisterously) to their closely held perceptions that the late fall and early winter months are a bad time to launch. They seem to have completely missed one of the central points you make:
Small Dealer said:
"Winter"/October Launch
Many people have felt that an October launch is bad. Lets forget for a moment that all the cars coming are already sold, and look at some figures for the two most popular models.

BMW Z4
As the sales leader, lets look here first. In 2003, October was their number 3 month for sales. Their best? try December. And even November outsold September.
....
People will buy roadster when they want. A new model available from 2,700 dealers that didn't have one to sell before should be able to carry its share of the yearly sales load also. But again in the Solstice's case every one of the cars being built for the first several months may have started out as a "sold" order.
The numbers belie all opinion. The BMW Z4 example is extremely apropos, and the conclusion that "People will buy a roadster when they want." is strongly supported by the data you present.

Perhaps your most salient observation was that Pontiac hit their target market in one of its most aggressive range of months, March/April/May:
Small Dealer said:
Best Selling Month
OK, here is what you have all been waiting for, or at least the three minutes you have spent reading this far :) . In the better year of 2003 it was..............................April followed by May. For the down year of 2004 it was March followed by April.....
....
So perhaps in conclusion, I guess you could say, if you can't build them in the Spring ( and there was no way Solstice production could have been ready for Spring 2005), perhaps you are better off having a giant promotion and early order program during the best selling months :) .
I will go one step further. Your research and the sales numbers you brought forward refute the nay sayers.

As you point out, Pontiac has sold a substantial number of units, essentially all of the calendar 2005 production run for the 2006 model year. What happens to the market next is anyone's guess, but just as Apple lead the price point for an Internet capable computer system down when they released the iMac, Pontiac's $20k entry point may well attract an untapped segment of the roadster market.

Small Dealer said:
I am starting to fell like the Crimson Avenger ( :thumbs: ) with the length of these posts. :lol:
Sometimes it helps to be thorough ;)
 

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As I posted before, I'd bet a dinner and dessert at the best restaurant around that there will prolly be a summer next year. Maybe even for the next 10 or 15 years... after that, we'll see :lol:

Just thinking maybe this is an almost perfect strategy: they've got sold vehicles already - anywhere from a couple to several months production, depending on assembly line production acceleration. The most optimum point is when you are building and selling cars at exactly the same rate. Maybe they WERE timing the acceleration to coincide with less-than-max line rate until they can get to full line rate.

I know, there's lots of holes in the argument - but things tend to work out.

Besides, if they keep on track with the intro of the auto-trans and sky, I think they've got plenty to maintain the assembly plant volume. Now there's less time where a limited-options Solstice is available.
 

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Small Dealer said:
.




BMW Z4
As the sales leader, lets look here first. In 2003, October was their number 3 month for sales. Their best? try December. And even November outsold September.
In 2004 October stepped back to number 4.

Best Selling Month
Ok, here is what you have all been waiting for, or at least the three minutes you have spent reading this far :) . In the better year of 2003 it was..............................April followed by May. For the down year of 2004 it was March followed by April. So it isn't the summer months that are important as posts have speculated. July & August have been #6 & #8 for BMW both years for example.
First, let me say I have not jumped on Pontiac for their timing of the Solstice launch. In fact, I believe they know what they are doing in this regard. I think what has caused then much grief is the production delay.

That said, I have to ask if you considered the effect of rebates in your analysis. I think we can all agree that most manufacturers become very aggressive with rebates during October, November, and December, as they try to clear the lots of last years models. Could rebates account for a large portion of sales during this timeframe? If so, the Solstice sales figures would be for obvious reasons unaffected by rebates.

I do agree that March, April, and May would have high sales volume. This makes sense as people are purchasing the cars as the weather becomes favorable to “top down” driving.
 

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solsticeman said:
As I posted before, I'd bet a dinner and dessert at the best restaurant around that there will prolly be a summer next year. Maybe even for the next 10 or 15 years... after that, we'll see :lol:

Just thinking maybe this is an almost perfect strategy: they've got sold vehicles already - anywhere from a couple to several months production, depending on assembly line production acceleration. The most optimum point is when you are building and selling cars at exactly the same rate. Maybe they WERE timing the acceleration to coincide with less-than-max line rate until they can get to full line rate.

I know, there's lots of holes in the argument - but things tend to work out.

Besides, if they keep on track with the intro of the auto-trans and sky, I think they've got plenty to maintain the assembly plant volume. Now there's less time where a limited-options Solstice is available.
Be careful who you bet! ;) Last year, Buffalo didn't get a summer. We went right from spring to fall. Somehow, we got missed by all that warm and sunny summer weather everyone else enjoys in July/August. :cuss: :lol:
 

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Roadster Market
I believe I have read posts that quote Pontiac as saying the roadster market is a 100,000 units per year market.

We keep hearing this number quoted, but that is with most of those being priced at $30,000 US and up. Only Miata's share is at a similar price point. Look at the sales numbers for the AH Sprite and the MG Midget. When you can buy a sports car for the same price as a small sedan, the otherwise impractical purchase becomes a reality.

I see the Solstice as a wonderfully impractical car, the perfect foil for my totally practical Volvo V70.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the roadster sales soar with the availability of an affordable fun car.
 

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Fformula88 said:
Be careful who you bet! ;) Last year, Buffalo didn't get a summer. We went right from spring to fall. Somehow, we got missed by all that warm and sunny summer weather everyone else enjoys in July/August. :cuss: :lol:
Good point, Ff88. With the weather around SE MI this year, I was wondering if we cancelled summer for the year. After all, we DID have that big blackout - maybe someone thought we use too much elec. for AC :lol:
 

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Winter roadster buy

I was looking last Dec, Jan, and Feb. at the convertible market and would have bought then had finances allowed. That's when my wholesaler connections said buying at auction was best because that's when the prices are the softest on auction units. Looking at advertising in the motorcycle market suggests manufacturers really want to drive sales in the early spring.

When news of the Solstice started heating up I decided to wait and see what happened. Given the attractive pricing for my budget and my incredible good luck at getting an EOP car, I’m really quite satisfied. I am impatient to have it though.

I would consider myself the average consumer and therefore the target for this vehicle to stimulate interest in GM by those who I talk to about the experience of owning it. I think the theory that securing orders (or as it's been proposed..."gauging market interest") during the early spring months that coincided with the long lead time for the EOP promotion is a very plausible one. Remember Occam's Razor.

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/OCCAMRAZ.html
 

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solsticeman said:
Good point, Ff88. With the weather around SE MI this year, I was wondering if we cancelled summer for the year. After all, we DID have that big blackout - maybe someone thought we use too much elec. for AC :lol:

Sol(stice)man...

I'm sure you had the same weather we did on the West side of the mitten. I recall the best days last year were all after Labor day... SOOO there might be a week or two of top down weather this year.
 

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package said:
Sol(stice)man...

I'm sure you had the same weather we did on the West side of the mitten. I recall the best days last year were all after Labor day... SOOO there might be a week or two of top down weather this year.

There was only one day last summer (2004) that I actually has to turn on the house airconditioner!
 

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package said:
Sol(stice)man...

I'm sure you had the same weather we did on the West side of the mitten. I recall the best days last year were all after Labor day... SOOO there might be a week or two of top down weather this year.
No wonder's GM thinks a fall delivery is a good idea, it is when all the GM execs saw summer last year! :glol:
 

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Fformula88 said:
No wonder's GM thinks a fall delivery is a good idea, it is when all the GM execs saw summer last year! :glol:

I liked that one FF88!! We have all these funny lakes around us.. so we have no idea what forecastable weather is. For example. up until last Thurs night it was going to rain this weekend (except Memorial Day). Then on Friday it was ONLY going to rain Memorial Day. They finally figured out Monday morning.. that it wasn't going to rain on this side of the state. I can look out a window and do that good....
 

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package said:
I liked that one FF88!! We have all these funny lakes around us.. so we have no idea what forecastable weather is. For example. up until last Thurs night it was going to rain this weekend (except Memorial Day). Then on Friday it was ONLY going to rain Memorial Day. They finally figured out Monday morning.. that it wasn't going to rain on this side of the state. I can look out a window and do that good....
The lakes do create funny weather patterns. In Buffalo this time of year, they predict a chance of showers nearly every day. However, we hardly ever get them. The cool water in the lakes tend to take the steam out of any rain showers, so by the time the rain would reach land, it has dissipated

Since lake Erie is skinny and Buffalo is at the tip of it, this only really works for the city and inner suburbs. You get 15-20 minutes north or south of the city, and it is raining. Meanwhile it is sunny in the city. It is nice that the lake kills all those showers, but we pay for it in the winter!
 
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