As Tim Cain alluded to earlier this month while speaking of Encore sales, Buick is in a bit of a rut. In a market that’s growing with many brands seeing best-ever sales periods, Buick is being propped up by a single model, its cute-ute Encore. That’s not enough to stave off the downward sales trend of its other offerings as the brand as a whole is down 5 percent year-to-date.
Armchair analysts and pool chair pundits – this is your time to shine. Let’s fix Buick in 24 hours.
My name is Satish Kondapavulur. I am what most baby boomers would call “a millennial.” I like Vampire Weekend, streaming movies on Netflix, and playing Gran Turismo. My plans this weekend involve driving to Berkeley, going to whatever eardrum-splitting concert my friends want to see, with my dinner plans probably being a burger and fries from In-N-Out picked up at midnight. My daily driver is a 2002 BMW 530i, one of the best BMWs ever made. My favorite movie is American Graffiti, a film which involves plenty of loud exhausts, racing on city streets, and a 30-year-old Harrison attempting to pass for a teenager. And I liked my Buick LaCrosse test car.
In light of General Motors’ recent announcement of a $384 million investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, two vehicles from Cadillac and Buick could wind up being produced alongside the next-generation Volt.
Hey Sajeev and Steve,
Need your assistance for a fellow panther lover (my aunt) who is going to be looking for a new ride this fall.
She currently has a Mercury Grand Marquis (her second or third) and loves the car and would replace it with another in a heartbeat if they were still for sale. If you’re asking why she’s getting rid of it, there isn’t any particular reason. (Read More…)
According to a GM press release, the 2012 model-year version of the Buick LaCrosse is dragging a skeleton out of the GM marketing closet: the mild hybrid. But don’t you dare use the “m” word… it’s the eAssist.
Mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct injection four-cylinder engine and next-generation six-speed automatic transmission, the eAssist system uses power stored in the battery to provide needed electrical boost in various driving scenarios, optimizing engine and transmission operation. An advanced 115V lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15-kW motor-generator unit help increase fuel economy through:
- Regenerative braking, which provides up to 15 kW of electricity to charge the battery
- Providing up to 11 kW (15 hp) of electric power assistance during acceleration
- Automatic engine shut-off when the vehicle is stopped
- Aggressive fuel cut-off during deceleration down to zero vehicle speed, enabled by the torque smoothing provided by the motor-generator unit
- Intelligent charge/discharge of the high-voltage battery.
But most importantly:
While the eAssist system shares the same basic belt-alternator-starter configuration of previous BAS designs, it delivers more than three times the power and is much more capable than the previous-generation BAS system.
Buick says this will be the standard powertrain option for the LaCrosse starting in 2012, and along with aero and tire tweaks will loft the model’s mileage to (shout it) 37 MPG highway and (whisper it) 25 city. The price: 65 lbs and a $2k-$3k sticker increase to “about $30,000″. The Lacrosse has sold well this year (by recent Buick standards… 52k sales year-to-date), and the LaCrosse’s average transaction price is reportedly sitting at $32k… but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a gamble. The question now: will GM also drop a two-mode hybrid in the LaCrosse as threatened?
Even more than the Cadillac SRX reviewed last week, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse reflects Bob Lutz’s influence at GM. Soon after assuming responsibility for the corporation’s new product development in 2001, Lutz deemed the styling of the original Buick LaCrosse, recently approved for production, unfit for sale. The car was sent back to the designers for late revisions to the front end, delaying its launch by over a year. But not much could be done so late in the process. What would the LaCrosse be like if Lutz could oversee its entire development? With redesigned and re-engineered 2010 Buick LaCrosse we now have an answer.
With Pontiac and Saturn gone, Buick must assume a larger role within General Motors. It must now seek to win over enthusiasts who would have previously bought Pontiacs and the import-intenders who previously bought Saturns. The first product to follow from this expanded mission: the new 2011 Buick Regal. The Regal began life as the Opel Insignia—it will even be imported from Germany for the first year—and was to be marketed in the United States as the second-generation Saturn Aura. But it has been available in China as the Buick Regal for over a year now, so putting the tri-shield on the grille isn’t entirely an afterthought. This isn’t even the first time Opel has manufactured a car for Buick dealers—this tie goes way back. Even so, is the Regal a plausible Buick?
Buick’s LaCrosse is dropping its little-loved 3.0 V6 base engine in favor GM’s direct-injected 2.4 liter four-banger, probably so it can use the magic term “3o MPG highway” in forthcoming marketing. The downsides? You mean, besides having to move over 4,000 lbs with a 182 hp, 172 lb-ft engine (compared to the 3.0’s 255 hp, 217 lb-ft)? (Read More…)
The Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept, which debuts today at the NAIAS, is a look at the new Cadillac flagship which goes into production in early 2012. The XTS’s brief is to replace the moribund DTS and STS sedans, a task that Cadillac desperately needs done properly if it wants to be taken seriously as a luxury competitor. So why is the XTS concept little more than a glorified Buick LaCrosse?