Hoping to boost Oldsmobile Intrigue sales, General Motors Corp. says it likely will increase marketing efforts for the sport sedan and is considering reviving the Cutlass brand as an Intrigue model.

"Dealers are asking for Cutlass, possibly a Cutlass version of the Intrigue, which would help us kill two birds with one stone by bringing back a popular name and at the same time getting recognition for the Intrigue name," says Olds Marketing General Manager Karen C. Francis.

Intrigue, vital in the quest to recapture market share for Oldsmobile, in February posted its second straight monthly sales decline, falling 14.4%, against previous-year results. Intrigue also posted a slight dip in deliveries in 1999 compared to 1998 (90,057 vs. 90,563).

For a car that debuted in May 1997, that's much too early to plateau. The softening upper middle car segment may explain part of Intrigue's woes. Sales fell 5.6% during fourth quarter 1999 vs. like-1998. But GM wasn't looking for excuses.

"The Intrigue is a product that, when we look at sales right now, is not reaching expectations," says Paul Ballew, GM's general director of market and industry analysis. "It's an issue . . . we're continuing to monitor."

Details about possible future Intrigue marketing efforts weren't offered. But the coupon incentive program GM completed recently didn't help Intrigue or Oldsmobile, which was the only GM division to post a decline in February. Intrigue was offering a $500 rebate or low financing rates up until April 3, and Ms. Francis foresees assistance from other sources, including a downward movement from consumers shopping the redesigned '01 Aurora ($32,000 to $35,000) into the Intrigue ($24,000 to $28,000).

Should SAE Be Shortened a Day?

If the past two years are any indication, the Society of Automotive Engineers might see a downturn in attendance next year on the final day of its World Congress. It would have nothing to do with the show or the lack of parking but with superstition. For the past two years, the final day has been jinxed with misfortune. In 1999, a suspicious fire gutted the loading dock of Detroit's Cobo Center, destroying shipping crates for a few hundred exhibitors and shutting down the entire affair until afternoon. This year, right in the middle of the day, an unmanned power cart plowed through the central lobby of Cobo Center near the combative Joe Louis statue, striking tables and chairs and sending three people to the hospital. One man suffered a broken leg. The metal flat-bed utility cart finally came to a stop against a support column. No one is claiming responsibility, and after a few weeks neither Cobo nor SAE officials could say positively how it happened. The consensus is that a Cobo employee inadvertently tossed a bag of garbage in the front seat, and it fell on the throttle, sending the cart on its merry way. Cobo spokesman Lou Pavledes says the cart has been impounded and inspected, and that nothing appears to be wrong with it. A cleaning crew from ABM Total Building Services was using the cart, but the city has been unable to obtain a log showing who had it at the time, Mr. Pavledes says. He is confident last year's fire and this year's mishap are unrelated. "Anyone making that connection is on a fishing expedition," he says. Still, the incident left the SAE folks a bit shaken up. "We might as well make it a three-day Congress the way our fourth day has gone," SAE spokesman Steve Yaeger says with a chuckle.