GM Excelles at Brand Dilution in China, Too

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz
gm excelles at brand dilution in china too

You know how awesome the GMDAT Suzuki Forenza sedan is? Unfortunately, we've never reviewed it here at TTAC, which is mostly due to our intimidation by the 127 horsepower engine. Still, the car has a real global role. In Canada (where it was recently discontinued) it was known as the Chevy Optra. In the UK, the Chevy Lacetti. And in China? It's a luxury car! The Buick brand, very strong in China, is offering this same car as the Buick Excelle, and they've just released pictures of a refresh. What a travesty that they would dilute the absolutely crucial Buick brand name in its only viable market – China – with a car like this. I spoke with Ash Sutcliffe of the China Car Times website, who responded to my brand dilution concerns as such: "…it could be that the Excelle is very cheap, and they feel that they are getting an American car for a Chinese price." In fact Sutcliffe says the price is in the heart of "first new car" territory. It's too bad that what's exciting for the first new car buyer is bad for the guy considering a Chinese Buick Park Avenue that costs 5 times as much as the Excelle.

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4 of 10 comments
  • Blowfish Blowfish on Apr 07, 2008

    Buicks had been in China before the WWII. They recognised by the 3 or 4 holes on the hood. I take some of the old memories got re-ignited. Probably from some of their rich Grand parent days. If GM can make another Cimarron and be able to sell them like hot cakes, all the power to them. In places like China if all they care is going point A to B, with lots of A/C power, no rad boiling embarrassment. no autobahn to red line the engine, a 1.6 is more than adequate. China now became the last refuge for GM to make any money or sell all his cars & look beyond reproach. Ralph Nader hasn't made across the pond yet.

  • Davey49 Davey49 on Apr 07, 2008

    I think that car is sold in almost every country that has automobiles. Plus I'd bet if it were sold at Chevy dealers in the US it would outsell the Cobalt. Interior's actually pretty nice if you care about such things. Better than Cobalt, Caliber, Focus

  • Coupdetat Coupdetat on Apr 07, 2008

    For all your sarcasm, you don't understand how the Chinese consumer differs from the American consumer. Chinese are ALL about brand labels and luxury. As long as it is properly built, luxurious, and well-priced, it will likely do well. Hardly any prospective buyers will give second thought to 127hp, considering traffic moves at a crawl throughout most of China anyways.

  • Mr. Gray Mr. Gray on Feb 06, 2009

    Regardless of where else and in what form this car is sold elsewhere in the world, I don't think it should have been brought to the US. Why, because here, it sucks. Bad. I had to use one as a loaner car once. When I started driving it, I forgot to release the parking brake (go ahead and laugh at me). So I thought, "Damn this car is slow!" Then I noticed my error and released the parking brake. You know what? There was hardly any difference! This and the Gott cooler-like interior has doomed the forenza to rental fleet obscurity. Why do people even make cars like this one?