The 1992 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi is the first General Motors Corp. car to come with two front seat air bags, but don't look for safety alone to sell the SSEi.
Pontiac hopes its new Bonneville, unveiled recently at the Chicago Auto Show, will generate the type of enthusiasm GM's Buick sparked with last year's introduction of the Park Avenue. Pontiac's 1990 sales of 666,000 were down 2 percent from 1989, although it posted a small gain in market share.Equipped with a super-charged version of GM's 3.8-liter V-6 engine, the SSEi can churn out up to 200 horsepower with a maximum speed of 128 mph.
Pontiac has not yet established the base price, but expect it to be at least in the low- to mid-$20,000 range. In addition to a passenger-side airbag, other standard equipment will include traction control and an electronic head-up display enabling drivers to see a digital reading of their speed without lowering their line of vision.
The front fenders are a thermosplastic composite, and the car is two inches longer than the model it replaces.
Built in Wentzville, Mo., along with the Buick Park Avenue, the SSEi and its less-expensive version, the Bonneville SE, will reach dealer showrooms by late summer, according to Pontiac General Manager John Middlebrook.
Current plans call for annual production of about 100,000 Bonnevilles, about 10,000 of which will be SSEi's, Middlebrook said.
Also at the auto show, Chrysler Corp. design Vice President Tom Gale said the company is exploring new markets for its minivans. He also said it was more practical for Chrysler to develop its own small car to replace the discontinued Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon subcompacts rather than develop one with another automaker as a partner.