March 12, 2012
DETROIT -- General Motors is scrambling to increase availability of popular Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers with four-cylinder engines.
For two months, tight supplies of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder versions have forced GM to restrict dealer orders for those vehicles, which account for the vast majority of Equinox and Terrain sales. That has many dealers ordering more 3.0-liter V-6 models than they would like in the face of sharply rising fuel prices.
GM spokesman Jim Cain confirmed that there are "temporary order limits" in place on four-banger versions of the Equinox and Terrain.
"It's a function of a strong industry, a hot vehicle and very robust demand for the four-cylinder model," Cain wrote in an e-mail. "We're working with our suppliers to increase deliveries of key components" to meet demand.
GM has told dealers that the supply constraints are temporary but it hasn't said when it expects the issue to be resolved, Cain said. Four-cylinder models accounted for 79 percent of Equinox and Terrain sales in February, down from 87 percent during all of 2011, Cain said.
Many dealers say the V-6 models have gotten tougher to move in recent weeks as gasoline prices have risen. The U.S. average for regular gasoline rose to $3.79 a gallon last week, up 20 cents from two weeks earlier, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
"I cringe when I have to order a six," says Eduart Lela, general sales manager at Herb Chambers Chevrolet Cadillac in Danvers, Mass.
On a recent order, GM required Lela to take V-6 engines on three of the eight Equinox crossovers he requested. He would have preferred all four-cylinders.
In recent weeks, GM has offered $1,000 in dealer cash on V-6 models to lift sales. It's not offering any dealer cash on the four-cylinder versions.
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