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Chevrolet's Lumina is glowing.

Consider: sales rocketed 75% in calendar 1995 to nearly 214,600 and its market share in the mid-size sedan segment nearly doubled to 12%.

Michelle Lange, marketing manager of the Lumina and Monte Carlo, chaired the 25-member task force that developed plans for the 1995 Lumina. The problem: sales of the Lumina sedan and Lumina coupe slipped from peak 1993 sales of 225,000.

To get rolling, the team quizzed more than 2,000 customers.

They learned both models had the same muddy image, so they renamed the coupe Monte Carlo for a more sporty distinction. They discovered the sedan's target buyers put price and value at the top of their lists. (Other high concerns were dependability and safety.)

Ms. Lange and others on the team withstood pressure to price the Lumina closer to Ford's Taurus, and got their way for a base sticker of $15,995.

That was advertised during the launch "to at least get customers' attention," says Ms. Lange, 32. "It had to have a very strong value positioning because that's what the customers were telling us. I definitely think pricing was a critical element."

Chevy tried "Discover America." It gave 75 families across the country a Lumina for a week and a video camera to film their vacations. The promo brought Lumina media coverage, which broadened awareness, Ms. Lange says.

She sees Lumina's success continuing. In fact, Lumina posted its best April sales performance since its debut in 1990. All this without cash rebates while cutting lower-margin sales to fleets by about half to 30%.

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