Susan Docherty: Buick Compact on Its Way!

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Oh my God. You blew it up! You really did it. Damn you all to hell! Well, actually, I don’t think anyone is THAT bothered about Buick’s future these days, as the sales charts indicate. Still, it’s a shame, isn’t it, that the once-mighty doctor’s brand has become the dictionary definition of amorphous. I mean, a compact Buick? Why? During her live webchat in the FastLane, Buick/Pontiac/GMC supremo Susan Docherty offered no explanation for the company’s plans to introduce not one but two models below the LaCrosse, in both size and price. Chevy overlap? Well I never. Nor would the Old GM vet answer the question “will future production vehicles will be designed for Buick and not simply rebadges from other brands?” But the badge engineering question simply refuses to go away, for some reason. csmcars asks “Susan, GM has eliminated a lot of redundant models in its recent restructuring. Why continue to have both GMC and Chevrolet versions of so many truck models? Will GMC trucks be further distinguished from Chevy trucks? Or will Chevrolet become more of a car-focused brand?”

Chevrolet and GMC have two very different sets of buyers. GMC buyers want a more premium offering with higher levels of equipment and are willing to pay for that. Chevrolet our great foundational brand appeals to a wide variety of consumers in all segments of the market who want great everyday value in the products they buy. In terms of further differentiation between Chev vs. GMC, the best example is Equinox and Terrain, both with very different buyers, different levels of equipments where they only share a front windshield and roof.

What’s with the treble spacing between sentences? Amateur psychologists would suggest something to do with excessive caution and a fear of commitment. Anyway, at least Susan apologizes for killing Pontiac: “Sorry!” As for the future, Docherty nixes the idea of the now-dead Pontiac G8 becoming a Buick Grand National, but sees a Voltuick in Buick’s future. No badge engineering there, obviously.

And now, the REAL NEWS: portholes are here to stay!

Frank, Ventiports or Portholes are a key design element for Buick, just like the Waterfall grill is. According to my peers at design, they are here to stay – however we need to make sure we keep them modern and up to date.

Yeah, wouldn’t want any of them old-fashioned portholes, would we?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • FreedMike FreedMike on Sep 02, 2009
    mattstairs : September 1st, 2009 at 12:15 pm This is similar to Ford keeping Mercury. The Lincoln dealers wouldn’t make it on their own, and there are those people who buy “Ford” but don’t like Fords themselves. Mercury's a dead brand. Ford is just keeping it around until Lincoln can stand on its own.
  • Reclusive_in_nature Reclusive_in_nature on Sep 02, 2009

    Damn your black heart ttac! Showing a Grand National for a Buick compact post. For a second I thought I was going to read about GM turbocharging a G8 and selling it as a GNX or something but instead I got to read about another compact. *sigh*

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.
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