American Motors Corp. displayed six "concept cars" yesterday at the Shoreham Americana Hotel to show where the company thinks its future lies.
The show, called Concept 80, is being taken across the country to show to business, industrial, governmental and civic leaders in addition to media representatives. AMC wants to reach the people it describes as "the opinion leaders" to begin to sell the public the idea that smaller, fuel-efficient cars can be just as comfortable and suited to American desires as the larger cars the public is accustomed to buying.
AMC chairman Roy D. Chapin Jr. outlined his company's expectations of the automobile market in the 1980's. He said he sees small cars dominating the market with a volume of 6 to 8 million cars - about 60 per cent of [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] has been about 1 1/2 to 2 million cars a year.
AMC, which now gets about half of its total sales revenue from passenger car sales, wants to get 4 to 5 per cent of that 60 per cent. That translates into sales of 300,000 to 400,000 cars a year.
One of AMC's problems in the small car market, in which they have specialized in the past, is that "millions of Americans have never owned or even ridden in a small car. We have to make people aware of the virtues of small cars. They can be interesting," said Chapin.
AMC has been trying to combat sugging sales with rebate and promotional programs. Its most recent offer is $400 worth of air fare, hotel accommoderations or luggage with each purchase of a new car with factory-installed airconditioning.
Why hasn't the public flocked to smaller cars in general and AMC cars in particular? "There are as many answers to that as there are people answering," Chapin said.