Front Line: Wither Solstii?

Way back in August, GM trumpeted the fact that they d begun customer deliveries of the highly-anticipated, long-delayed Pontiac Solstice. We were treated to the dubious pleasures of watching Maximum Bob Lutz handing Solsticial keys to the roadster s first, delighted owners. The fact that the cars were part of a limited run for winners of a national TV promotion — rather than an honest-to-God dealer delivery — somehow escaped the mainstream media s attention. But not ours. Front line Solstii are still notable by their absence. So we recently checked-in with Bobbi Jo Olsze, Internet Salesperson for Rinke Pontiac GMC, for an update on the ETA of GM s mini-halo machine.

We don t have any Solstice here, Olsze revealed with a sigh. We don t even have a demonstrator. Like every other Pontiac franchise we called, Rinke has already filled all 16 of its reserved Solstii production slots. So what s the estimated time of arrival for these pre-sold orders? I can t answer that question for sure, Olsze admits, in her wonderfully friendly way. We re telling customers we hope to have their car sometime in February or March.

When it comes to build specification, GM s calling the tune. GM tells us what they re building that week and asks us if we want the car, Olsze reveals. Then we ask the customer. Nobody says no." As for all those ugly rumors of Pontiac dealers slapping a premium on the first cars through the pipeline, here's hoping the rest of the dealer network follows Rinke's policy: "We aren't charging anything on top of full retail.

Olsze has been taking Solstii deposits at the rate of two per week since mid-summer. She s currently responding to five or more email requests per day. The 32-year-old former Industrial Sales person says the production delay is losing Pontiac potential customers. I drove a Solstice and it s a fantastic car. But it s not on our lot. People can t look at it or touch it like they can the competition's I really wish we had one here.

[Jalopnik's Front Line column is a bottom-up look at the auto industry, from the point of view of dealership sales staff — who both sort through manufacturers' messaging and handle the ground-level realities of dealing with customers. Bless their hearts.]

Related:
Front Line: Will the Porsche Cayman Steal Sales from the 911? [internal]