“An old man turned ninety-eight,
He won the lottery and died the next day” – Alanis Morissette
General Motors’ Buick Verano didn’t make it to 98, but after turning the grand-old age of 5, the entry-level Buick sedan will join a congregation of defunct Buicks in Detroit’s vehicular graveyard. It would seem easy enough for the second-generation Verano to make its way over from China, where Buick is GM’s darling brand. In the interests of products that GM believes will produce higher U.S. volumes with superior margins, namely E-badged crossovers, the Verano’s North American days are over.
It’s not too difficult to understand why. In the United States, Buick reported 45,527 Verano sales in the model’s second full year, 2013. Just two years later, Verano volume in 2015 was down 30 percent from that peak. Buick is on track in 2016 to sell fewer than 27,000 Veranos in America. Sales of Buick’s more popular entry-level model, the Encore subcompact crossover, are up 21 percent this year. Already in 2016, through only five months, Buick has sold 30,330 Encores in the United States.
Yet north of the border, the Verano’s demise is indeed ironic. Just days before Automotive News revealed that GM would end the Verano’s North American run with an abbreviated 2017 model year, GM Canada revealed that Verano sales had risen to an all-time high in April.
“Buick is a global brand, and we remain committed to providing customers a compelling vehicle portfolio that meets the specific needs and demands of each country where it operates,” GM spokesperson George Saratlic told TTAC yesterday.
But at its current pace, Canadian sales of the Verano would rise above 9,000 units in 2016, a large number for a semi-premium compact sedan that wears the badge of a company that’s lost nearly half its market share over the last decade. The Verano outperforms its Buick family in Canada, claiming 1.2 percent of the Canadian passenger car market (only 0.4 percent in the U.S.) while the Buick brand’s market share in Canada – 0.9 percent this year – is three-tenths of a percentage point lower than it is in the United States.
Not only did the Verano set a Canadian sales record of 1,125 units in April, the Verano generated more than half of Buick’s Canadian sales volume in May. The LaCrosse, Regal, Enclave, Encore, and new Envision combined for a 22-percent year-over-year loss in May, yet total Buick sales rose 2 percent because of the Verano’s 43-percent year-over-year increase, the Verano’s sixth consecutive improvement. Buick’s 2-percent increase in May stood in stark contrast to the performances of GM’s three other brands: Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC slid 25 percent, 10 percent, and 21 percent, respectively.
It’s under these circumstances that GM Canada waves goodbye to the Buick Verano, a sedan which is, like so many traditional sedans, projected to be a low-volume, low-margin car in the near future.
“Here in Canada, the SUV market began to outperform the car market in 2014 and since then this trend has been continuing,” Saratlic said. “This change with Verano underscores this changing consumer market dynamic and will allow Buick to invest greater resources in the all-new Envision crossover set to arrive in Canadian dealerships this summer and the recently updated and award-winning 2017 Encore crossover.”
Yes, call it coincidence, call it irony, call it an unexpected twist. But GM is turning away from the Verano, a car which lives on in all-new form in China, to invest greater resources in the Envision, which is imported from China.
[Image Source: General Motors]