General Motors Corp.'s announcement of across-the-board price increases for its 1992 models won't hit the locally made minivans hard, company spokesman David Hudgens said yesterday.
GM, which said that it would raise some car prices as much as 11 percent, said prices of the Baltimore-made Astro and Safari vans would be about 2 percent higher.
The reason, the company said, is that the vans made at the Broening Highway plant already have the safety features being introduced to many GM cars this fall.
Starting this fall, the lowest-price Astro passenger van will cost $15,185, Chevrolet announced, up 2.4 percent from last year's base price of $14,824. The Astro's sister vehicle, the GMC Safari van, will start at $14,063 in the fall, up from this year's base price of $13,788.
The price increases are expected to keep the GM minivans in line with competitors. Though Chrysler Corp., the nation's largest seller of minivans, hasn't announced its 1992 prices, last year's base price for a comparable six-cylinder Plymouth Voyager passenger van was $14,142. Starting this January, all Chrysler minivans came with air bags as standard equipment. GM doesn't offer airbags on the Astro or Safari vans.
The prices of some GM cars, such as the Chevrolet Cavalier, will rise more dramatically than prices for the minivans because the company will offer anti-lock brakes as standard equipment. The minivans have anti-lock braking systems, Mr. Hudgens said.
Though minivan sales dropped 11 percent in the first seven months of this year, compared with the corresponding part of 1990, local Chevrolet
salesmen said that a small price increase wouldn't worsen sales.
"This won't make any difference," said Bruce Ambrose, a salesman for JBA Chevrolet on Ritchie Highway. He said that sales have suffered this year because of a poor economy and tightening credit.
Only 86,843 of the Baltimore-made vans were sold in the first seven months of 1991, down from 97,944 in 1990, GM said. Overall, sales of domestically produced minivans dropped 12.6 percent in the first half of this year.