GM Lansing Craft Centre Back at Work

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High power, and low volume; that's part of the appeal of the Chevy SSR.

Rarity breeds luxury, and this car is rare.

"We [sell] about six a year; that's one every two months," explains Shaheen Chevrolet inventory manager Gary Slater. He calls it appropriately stocked, though their dealership never has more than a couple of them on hand.

He says demand has slowed significantly since the cars roll out in 2003. What's more sales in 2005 are already 20 percent below year-to-date sales for 2005. He's concerned that Craft Centre's produced more of them to move, and they simply can't sell GM's target number of more than 13,000.

Because it's a convertible, there is a seasonal factor to sales. Slater says inquiries are much more common in warm weather months, but a price tag of about $50,000 keeps it in the low-volume category.

UAW Local 1618 President Brian Fredline is always hopeful things will change. He's cautiously optimistic sales will rebound, but active in pursuit of a back-up plan.

"We're out there searching for another product for Lansing," he says.

Fredline believes the SSR will have a following for a number of years to come. Slater, on the other hand, has heard rumors the 2006 model will be the last.

As for the plant, Fredline says GM has confidence in them and considers them critical to specialty vehicle production. "We've got a long history of survival. The SSR will not be our last product."