By on May 6, 2010

Buick has confirmed long-standing rumors that it will offer a compact (Delta II) sedan (likely a rebadge of the Opel Astra) and a subcompact (Gamma II) MPV “in the near future,” reports the Detroit News.With the Regal launching this year, these two vehicles will create a Buick lineup with twice the options of its current three-car lineup. That current lineup competes in only two vehicle segments, whereas by 2013, Buick expects to compete in 47 percent of market segments with a lineup of vehicles that will all be newer than the Regal. In other words, if you think Buick’s problem is product, GM agrees with you… and it’s revamping the brand’s entire lineup over the next three years.

But big expenditures at GM always have to be matched with big goals. Buick-GMC sales boss Brian Sweeney chops the sales just right and tells the DetN that

Buick is the fastest growing brand in the industry, and we expect to double our sales in the next few years.

In fact, according to Sweeney, all this growth is downright problematic:

We’re growing fast, but we don’t want to grow too fast

Besides, Buick has a strategy to improve its upmarket perception: getting rid of trim levels. Starting in 2012, Buick will ditch the confusing “CX,” “CXL,” and “CXS” trim-level designations because, as Buick-GMC Advertising honcho Craig Bierley tells Automotive News [sub]:
It isn’t befitting a premium brand. No other premium brand has those designations. It implies a hierarchy — that there’s a cheap one, a middle-level one and a really, really nice one.
Instead, the brand will offer a few packages with increasing content levels that build on each other, Bierley told GM employees today at an event outlining the Buick brand’s positioning.

“When you get the second package, you get everything that’s in the first package, plus the second package,” he told reporters after the event. “You can’t go in and layer on the stuff that’s in the third package on the first package. You have to walk up the ladder.”

Customers will also be able to add select features to their package, such as sunroofs, navigation systems or larger wheels, he said.

Gosh, that sounds awfully hierarchical, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds remarkably similar to the system that’s currently in place, only with more rules and no alphabet-soup nomenclature. But there is one other change that’s coming to Buick:
The base models will likely include more content than they do today, Bierley said, including large, color displays for electronics. That would probably increase the price of base models, he said.

“It isn’t our stated goal to raise all our base prices over time,” he said. But “to give customers the content they want is absolutely key.”

Buick has “almost entirely dropped out of golf”… Instead, it will focus on more grass-roots campaigns and search for customers who shop at Whole Foods and Ikea and drink coffee at Starbucks. These are consumers who want luxury but don’t always want to pay luxury prices.
Despite all the money, effort and PR GM is pouring into Buick, the more we hear about the brand and its new plans, the more confused we become. How do you rescue a brand from irrelevance if it’s supposed to all things to all value-oriented luxury buyers? Even Buick’s dealers can’t agree to update their facilities to a brand-uniform look, as Wards [sub] reports that only 400 of Buicks 2,054 dealers have signed on to the overhaul. If GM is serious about making this brand work, someone needs to grab Buick by the scruff of the neck and whip some focus, discipline and identity into it. Otherwise it will be out of the vague-and-ignored frying pan, and into the vague-and-ignored fire. But hey, at least then Sweeney won’t have to worry about “too much” sales growth.
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68 Comments on “Buick Confirms Compact Sedan, “Baby Enclave,” Death Of Trim Levels, More...”

  • avatar

    dumb asses don’t know a Buick from a golf cart. they’re supposed to be BIG, not Euro rebadges, not Chevy overbuilds. specifically speaking Buicks are substantial, dinstinctive, powerful, mature, understated elegance, but most of all BIG.

    need packages? think Custom and Limited. want to sell some Buicks? listen to the Buickman. so long Susan…say hi to Rick, Mark, Pete, Gary, Troy, Bob, Brent, and the rest of the bk bunch.

    Flint Michigan…My Hometown…

  • avatar

    A small Buick sedan seems really misguided. If Buick is supposed to be GM’s answer to Lexus this is foolish.* However, if, in typical GM fashion, Buick is supposed to just sell as many cars at it can, to hell with the collateral damage, then it sounds like the more things change the more they stay the same.

    Also, Buick needs to ditch the wheel covers on all its base model products. You shouldn’t sell “entry level luxury” with wheel covers. Details, details, details.

    *While Lexus does sell that little hybrid thing at least it’s not based on anything you can buy at your local Toyota dealer, and it is a hybrid, so its got that ace up it’s sleeve. Meanwhile, if the reviews are to be believed, it does a bad Lexus impression anyway.

  • avatar

    Since Buick is currently pretty much an irrelevant brand to the overwhelming majority of U.S. car buyers whatever models they add may or may not have any impact depending on how they market them. I thought Saturn had proved rebadged Astras were a flop but apparently not to GM’s satisfaction if they’re going to try again under the Buick banner. If the subcompact is an Aveo derivative good luck with that or any other subcompact Buick. If the Buick brand still stands for anything in the U.S. market it certainly isn’t a subcompact vehicle. Once again GM is aimless in defining a brand. Too bad they couldn’t follow Toyota, Nissan and Honda having one mainstream and one luxury brand instead insisting on wasting resources offering competitive inhouse brands. As for the new packages and lack of nomenclature no one cares about that except GM themselves, an exercise in futility.

  • avatar

    Buickman is right.

    GM simply does not understand branding. It doesn’t understand how to keep brands distinct, or what types of cars should be sold under what brand.

    • 0 avatar

      Most of those dealers lost a lot of volume due to the demise of Pontiac and a line-up of three cars won’t cut it. They also need product to meet EPA regulations. I don’t have problems with the Astra derivative, as the Astra is considered a well-executed vehicle. I am a little concerned that they are using junk like the Aveo for a brand that’s supposed ot be “affordable luxury”. Shouldn’t they be looking at doing something cooler like a Buick take on the Pontiac Vibe?

      Also, the Chinese Buick Park Avenue (a Holden Commodore) would also be a good vehicle to bring over, but then you start muddling the difference between Cadillac and Buick.

  • avatar

    Kudo’s Buickman.
    “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”

  • avatar

    It looks like Joe Ewanick has his first challenge. He got his way with pruning some of the sales department deadwood, but he’ll have to make demands on the product planning people, or he’ll be putting lip gloss on pigs.

  • avatar

    @mtymsi +1

  • avatar
    Toy Maker

    I’m really liking that little wagon. Buick or not.

    Looks like they will market it to fight the B-Class buyers, which is a shame. Because there are much, much more buyers interested in a Fit-like package than a mini-luxury-wagon outfit.

  • avatar

    No one wanted an Opel when they were rebadged as Saturns, so why would anyone want an Opel when it is rebadged a Buick?

    GM is lost.

  • avatar

    [Buick “will focus on more grass-roots campaigns and search for customers who shop at Whole Foods and Ikea and drink coffee at Starbucks. These are consumers who want luxury but don’t always want to pay luxury prices.”]

    If I was a PR suit cooking up preposterous analogies, at least I would try to pick some fitting examples. I’ll give him IKEA, but grocery prices don’t get much more “luxurious” than at Whole Foods, as far as I can tell. Much the same for Starbucks, their near-fast-food ambiance notwithstanding.

    If these truly are Buick’s aspirational targets, God help them.

  • avatar

    Can a Buick pickup be far behind?

  • avatar

    It’s Joel Ewanick. And your point about having an impact on the product is right on target. As an outsider, he’s likely to be crushed by the accountants and ignored by the herd at GM.
    When I took my first advertising job in the car business in 1979. I worked an agency that had several Buick dealer ad groups. Even back then we were knew we had to make the Buick brand more appealing to a younger demographic…and keep it value oriented…and keep the focus on luxury…and make the brand relevant…and make it more modern and…well, not much has really changed for Buick in the ensuing years, other that that frighteningly steep dip in annual sales starting in 2002. Having also worked for the bow-tie brigade, in the end all that really matters is Chevy. Because of that truism Buick will no doubt got the way of Saturn, Oldsmobile and Pontiac. Three other brands that got in the way of the ever expanding Chevy-centric thinking down at the tubes.

  • avatar

    In 1999, I remember reading about another brand that was experiencing fast growth and attracting younger buyers.

    It was Oldsmobile.

    We all know how that one turned out.

    As Yogi Berra said, “It’s deja vu all over again.”

    I have the perfect name for this smaller Buick. GM should call it the “Cimarron.” Now there’s a GM name with plenty of heritage that will fit this new Buick perfectly!

  • avatar

    I personally would be more concerned about adding rebadged Aveos and Cruzes to an already damaged near-luxury brand than worrying about its trim levels.

  • avatar

    As much as I like Jim, Buickman might as well be Oldsmobileman or Pontiacman or Saturnman, because that’s where Buick will end up.

    I must say, though, that I like the non-hierarchical hierarchical options packages, and that GM should hire me back in a spiffy new role as Non-Hierarchical Hierarchical Options Package Market Pricing Specialist. I kinda miss the food court at the RenCen.

  • avatar

    Buick has always been understated elegance. Luxury for not quite the luxury pricetag. A Caddy in disguise.
    An entry level worked for years with the Skylark/Skyhawk/Somerset. People like to think they have a more expensive car then they really do. Aspire to a Buick and start with an entry level and work your way up. Unfortunately, this model is ancient history these days. There are too many makes/models/choices. Americans are not that brand loyal anymore. The entry sedan makes some sense to me, the wagon, not so much. Especially if it comes out its just a Daewoo in Buick clothing.

  • avatar

    Buicks based on the Cruze and Aveo? Here we go with badge engineering all over again…the more things change the more they stay the same. Yet another reason for me to stay as far away from GM as possible.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s the big deal about using the same platform for multiple vehicles? Do you think sales at Buick justify unique Buick only platforms?

      Like it or not, all manufacturers share platforms between their mass market and luxury brands. VW group anyone? Get over it.

    • 0 avatar

      > dwford

      Buick just seems unnecessary. Yes, I understand about platform sharing. As a brand, I have a pretty good idea what Chevy is supposed to be. Likewise for Cadillac. Do we really need something in the middle? I guess the Chinese must see something in Buicks I don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      @ LectroByte, I heard that the Chinese emperor drove a Buick and now everyone wants one.

    • 0 avatar

      There hasn’t been an emperor in China in quite some time.

  • avatar

    Buick shouldn’t be an answer to anything, it should be Buick first and foremost. Remodel the brand the way it was in it’s heyday and that would be a good place to start.

    I like doing away with trim levels, that is very smart. The ones they’ve been using were worthless. CX, CXL, Buick isn’t an alphabet soup brand. They need to bring base, Custom and Limited back. Every Buick buyer knows what that means and it’s more marketable than forgettable.

    The Regal looks good but the Gran Sport HAS to have the turbo V6. Buick and the Regal brand are known for blown V6s. Offering it as a four-cylinder only is bonkers, especially when the V6 is already in production. Lack of a V6 is a big no-no in the US and killed the sales of the first Acura TSX though it was a good car otherwise.

    Buick doesn’t need a people mover aside from the Enclave in the US. It’s about as bad as GM’s idea of rebadging the VUE for Buick after canning Saturn was. Leaving the people moving to Chevrolet.

    The new Opel Astra looks like an extremely nice car. A rebadge ala Regal might not be a bad thing for Buick but I firmly believe the brand should not offer anything smaller and cheaper than the Regal in the US. That’s bringing it down too far to cannabalize Chevrolet.

    The Park Avenue sold in China from Holden is sorely needed in the US. The Lucerne is a rental car and thoroughly embarrassing. It has to be killed and the Park Avenue should replace it. It is another old brand with lots of heritage that Buick is known for and I think it would do very well here, especially as rich as the Park Avenue looks.

    Buick also needs to dump the LaCrosse name, it is meaningless and stupid. For all intents and purposes the LaCrosse is a modern LeSabre without the name. It should be wearing the LeSabre name. It’s not too late to change the name just as Ford did with the Five Hundred to Taurus. It wasn’t too long ago that LeSabre had a good image and was a top selling family car in the US before GM ruined it with the 2000 redesign.

    To bring Buick’s buying age down the Regal is a good start. Buick also needs a show-stopping coupe. A new Riviera would do wonders. They can throw the Shanghai concept in the trash, it’s too goofy and out of touch with the Riviera’s heritage. GM needs to look towards the 1960s coupes and build a modern one that is just as flashy, supremely luxurious and powerful. Making it out of the Camaro’s guts wouldn’t be bad and it would put Oshawa to work and give the brand a real flagship (aside from the Park Avenue) that it really needs.

    I’m no Buickman, but I am TriShield and out of all of GM’s brands Buick holds the biggest place in my heart.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree about Le Sabre and Riviera. Those are great names with a lot of heritage, make cars decent of enough to earn those names and they’ll sell. A Camaro based Riviera would be a great use of the platform.

      At the other end of the spectrum, is GM really coming out with a NEW Aveo? The most-mentioned name in rental-cars-to-avoid articles? Seriously, if there was ever a name to be ditched, that’s the one. They’d be better off sticking a Vega badge on their next small car. At least most of their potential buyers are too young to remember the original.

    • 0 avatar

      “The Regal looks good but the Gran Sport HAS to have the turbo V6. Buick and the Regal brand are known for blown V6s. Offering it as a four-cylinder only is bonkers, especially when the V6 is already in production. Lack of a V6 is a big no-no in the US and killed the sales of the first Acura TSX though it was a good car otherwise.”

      I don’t know about this one. I think that you have it backward; the famous GSX is known to be a Buick, but I don’t think that means that your average joe-car-shopper relates turbo-v6’s to that name plate today, since the last one they made was eons ago and only known now to the knowledgeable and the jiffy-lube logo faithful and – lets be honest with ourselves – if THEY we as numerous as we’d like the think, the original GSX wouldn’t have been killed off the way it was and the regal that followed would have retained rear wheel drive.

      It’s true that the TSX was almost DOA in the sales department, but this wasn’t due the a lack of a V6 model – it was due in part to Honda’s total and utter gutlessness regarding speed, power, and performance, and in part to their own stupidity. When the RSX was cancelled, Honda offered the civic si to replace it AND the TSX to fill the gap left by the RSX. Only the TSX was more expensive than the si and less tunable than either the si or the RSX so, way to destroy whatever reason we had to buy Acura’s budget model, Honda! They offer a V6 model now because they have to – they now need to distance the TSX from the si to justify the increase in price and give buyers a reason to, well, buy it.

      My feeling is that as long as the hp is 300 or north of it – and what boosted four can’t do that these days – a few people and the die-hard GSXr’s will be disappointed, but joe-car shopper wouldn’t care less. If scooby and mitsu can get away with asking $30k for a boosted four, I don’t see why Buick can’t. If we’re talking something like 240-260hp then, yeah they might have a problem asking $30k for it.

    • 0 avatar

      ah, my friend, I disagree…you are a Buickman, know one when I see one.

  • avatar

    So, basically they’re turning Buick into Pontiac. They’re just going to cannibalize Chevy rather than compete with Lexus. Dips*ts.

    And the small crossover? It’s going to be strangled by the Equinox on the low end (which can be quite nice in loaded LTZ trim) and the SRX on the high end. The SRX should have been a Buick to begin with!

    And let me ditto Buickman and Trihsield on bringing back the legacy names–Buick has so many wonderful names from its history. LeSabre. Wildcat. Park Avenue. Riviera. Electra. Why not USE them?

    • 0 avatar

      why did they quit making Ruby Red on Lucerne when it was the best seller. why no Blue Enclave? why only grey or tan interiors unless CXS? why to so many idiotic things they do? why didn’t the brochures line up with the order guides? why no Lucerne consensus for 4 months? why keep changing the slogan and each time worsening it? could go on for hours as mgt has been that horrific. almost to the point you wonder of they’re doing it on purpose, no one could be so stupid…

    • 0 avatar


      I remember in my childhood riding in the back of an early ’90s fully loaded Roadmaster my grandparents had. They also hosted exchange students from various countries, and he told me quite a few of them commented on what an *American* car the Roadmaster was. Not a BMW or Lexus wannabe, not a ___UV, but a real American car.

      Which means: big-ass V8, bench seat, column shifter, comfy
      leather living room-like seats, RWD, powerful HVAC, quiet, and a ridiculous amount of room to stretch out. It would be funny that the Chinese now appreciate this style of car more than we do, if it wasn’t so sad.

      Despite what some think, there are people that still like this kind of car. Look at the number of Panthers Ford sells despite trying to intentionally starve them of sales! The only trim level left is “taxicab”, the mechanics date back to the Carter Administration, yet they still keep on selling. Imagine what the Chinese-market Park Avenue, with a modern interior and amenities, could do here.

    • 0 avatar

      I too still believe in the traditional American luxury car as described above. Big, powerful, styling to somewhat understated, supremely comfortable to drive day after day after day on a long trip.

      Buick is a traditional American luxury car brand (so is Cadillac). It’s fine to play on the Regal’s Euro-engineering/handling but the brand really needs a traditional car like the Park Avenue back. It also doesn’t have to tout how fast it goes around the ‘Ring. It should tout how fast it gets to 60 and passes, how whisper quiet it is on the road, how it makes every pothole and expansion joint invisible to the occupants and coddles them.

      I think there is much more of a market for a traditional car like that than people realize.

      And I think the above car is just the one to fill it. A new Park Avenue Ultra loaded with all the amenities offered in China plus a 400hp LS3 V8 could make some waves. While GM is busy having Caddy chase Germans Buick can offer the most powerful and most supremely comfortable American wafting machine next to the Escalade.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      @ TriShield, you said “It should tout how fast it gets to 60 and passes, how whisper quiet it is on the road, how it makes every pothole and expansion joint invisible to the occupants and coddles them.”

      When I attended the Buick employee event this past Wednesday, I drove the Regal, LaCrosse, and Enclave around the Warren Tech Center and purposely hit all the bumps I could, floored it going north on Mound Road until I hit 50 MPH, and listened for road noise. All 3 would meet your expectations.

      The sales and marketing veeps told us that what you described is exactly how the vehicles will be touted, in addition to focusing on technologies that aid the driving experience (blind zone alert, heads up displays, interactive drive control) and making sure that Buick is on the CR recommended buy list for quality and reliability.

      And based on what happened this week RE: Ewanick/ Docherty, IMO, Ed Whitacre will hold these veeps to getting the stated results or find someone who will.

  • avatar

    This just shows that bailing out GM was a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. I want my money back!

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    GM should have killed Buick instead of Pontiac. Pontiac would have been a much easier sell for what they are after. Don’t think I would be caught dead driving a Buick. Maybe when I am 70 and near dead, though. That is a long ways away.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah…no. The G8 was likely the best car Pontiac ever sold. When have you heard Pontiac compared to BMW positively? Oh that’s right, never. the G8 changed all of that. Despite this, the car still failed, still sold only a few thousand examples stateside and the brand was still axed.

      Pontiac wasn’t an easy sell to anyone, because no one was buying. Meanwhile, Buick had the critically acclaimed and commercially successful enclave under its belt. It also has a portfolio of forgettable examples of badge engineering that were at least relatively profitable. What did pontiac have in comparison? An expensive-to-import car that wasn’t selling worth it’s weight and a portfolio of parts bin specials and Chevy clones-which also weren’t selling worth their weight. So it got the axe. The G8 was to litte to late. If it had a been called ‘the new chevy impala’ instead, or had came a decade earlier, we might be having a different conversation right now, but alas that was not to be. Did end up making an awesome police car though…

  • avatar

    Buick rebadged Aveo huh? I suppose it could be worse GMC could have some sort of concept small car…………

  • avatar
    John Horner

    So, trim levels are staying, but are going to be option packages instead of having dorky C__ names. How much do they pay the people that come up with this stuff?

  • avatar

    Compact Buicks?! Gasp! People, people, ever look inside a Scion? Mostly middle age and older people. Just because a car is small doesn’t mean it’s only for kids. Ever think that not all old people want or can afford a large car? Plenty of older people need less expensive good mileage cars.

    What Buick really wants is for younger people to buy Buicks. Good luck with that, but at least we can hope to see fewer oldsters in Scions when the small Buicks get here.

    Grandpa, take that FUBU jacket off, you look ridiculous!

  • avatar

    Buick has a huge problem. It has Chevrolet encroaching from the bottom and Cadillac encroaching from the top. Toyota/Lexus, Nissan/Infiniti and Honda/Acura do not have this problem. There is a mainstream line and a prestige line. Buick has the same problem that Mercury has – it is neither.

    It can be done, but I doubt that the people at GM can do it. Chevrolet needs to stop short of everything that Toyota Honda and Ford are. Cadillac needs to move up and give Buick some breathing room. But Cadillac cannot do this, because without volume, the standalone Cad dealers will starve. This is why the Toyota/Lexus cutoff is at the low end of where Buick should be. Lexus dealers could not survive on high end models, and LOTS fewer of the entry models would be sold if they did not have the big L on the grille.

    Buick should be sold out of Cadillac dealers. It should take the place of the volume/value Cadillac. Just like Rolls Royce used to have Bentley. Buick can be big soft traditional American luxury, while Cadillac can be an all-out high end car. Buick should be competing with the Toyota Avalon and the Ford Taurus. And it should be called either Electra or Roadmaster. If there has to be a small Buick, it should share zero sheetmetal with its lower-priced platform twin, and should be loaded with equipment, be fast and sell for over $30K. But GM did not set things up this way. It was stuck with a bunch of dealers that it did not want to pay off or slough off in bankruptcy. So, these dealers need volume. Chrysler Sebring, here we come. But then, Buick will have neither prestige nor volume.

    • 0 avatar

      jp, I totally agree with you on selling Buick out of Caddy dealers. That’s exactly what I said when GM closed down Pontiac. GM should have closed down both Pontaic and GMC and moved Buick into Caddy as an entry level luxury brand. Caddy as a top level rear and all wheel drive brand and Buick could have been the entry level FWD brand. You could have got away with only 2 – 3 Buick models and 3 -4 Caddy models then.That would have killed two birds with one stone. Less brands and models to waste ad money on and get more volume into Caddy dealers. GM could have expanded the number of Caddy dealers to handle the loss of BGP dealers. GM should have turned the G8 into an Impala replacement while they were at it.

    • 0 avatar

      Why not just take the logical next step and combine all four brands under one roof? If GM is trying to sell volume with Buick and Cadillac because stand-alone dealers are crying for volume sales, it’s the same old story all over again.

      Define what each brand represents, and market the crap out of the individual brand’s concepts. It’s fairly obvious, to me anyway, what each brand represents. It’s not 1960 anymore, and GM dealers and sales and marketing must change with the times.

      GMC: trucks and truck variants.

      Chevrolet: entry level value brand, selling small, medium, and full-size cars, and a small cross-over.

      Buick: As described above by many commentators, large luxurious UNDERSTATED RWD/AWD luxury cars and crossovers.

      Cadillac: really expensive sport luxury cars, coupes and wagons.

      Eliminate overlapping of brands, or make the overlaps minimum, and position the two premium brands for smaller-volume higher-margin sales.

      Will this happen? No, because the dealers will never buy into the concept. But wouldn’t it be so easy to move your buyers up a level or brand each time they come back for a new car or truck, instead of moving them up a trim level or model level within the same brand?

      GM has more than 100 years of history, and dozens of heritage nameplates. I don’t understand why they don’t capitalize on the legendary nameplates in each brand. A good marketing division would be able to make hay with all of the great names, and not all of the great nameplates are old, either; Grand National being a fine example.

      Sometimes, I sit at the computer reading about GM and I start seething with anger thinking of the heritage and goodwill that was pissed away in the last thirty years. It makes me want to rage every now and then.

    • 0 avatar

      Monty, if there is going to be a luxury brand, it should have a seperate dealer network. Toyota, Honda, VW don’t mix and match that way either. If you want a brand that competes with Lexus, then it needs to be in a luxury oriented showroom that doesn’t have $12,000 entry level cars in it.

      And my plan only leaves GM with three brands. GMC has no reason to exist.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Never cared about Buicks. Never bought a Buick. Never will.

    Given GM’s continued display of complete marketing incompetence (what else can we expect from a government organization) methinks that Buick will soon follow GM’s other carbon copy cheezit brands into oblivion.

  • avatar

    When will they learn, Buick should be the upgrade to Chevy, not compete with Chevy. Why not have 4 hip models that change a bit every 2 years in both content and style rather than 8 models, where 6 of those are indistinguishable from a Chevy or a Cadillac.

  • avatar

    Look at what Buick was in the ’60s. They had an economy car in the Special (a rebadge just like the Olds F85 and Pontiac Tempest), a step up Skylark, a sporty midsize in the Riviera, a fullsize hartop coupe in the Wildcat, later performance GS coupes, every pimp’s dream in the “deuce-and-a-quarter” Electra, the fullsize Invicta/LeSabre in sedan and hardtop, plus station wagons!

    Just as you don’t try to sell GM, you try to sell the brands, Buick didn’t sell one Buick image, it sold several models with their own image. You can’t just pick out the 1950s image of a doctor in a Roadmaster and stick it on every Buick. The key is to add enough visual cues to differentiate it from a common platform so it can be sold as something distinctive. That’s JoeL Ewanick’s challenge: to get the product people to add those visual cues and advertise the distinction.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I suppose it falls to be to be the bringer of sad tidings. The cheap, cushy, geezerboat-selling Buick is dead (as witnessed by the sales chart). The old homestead was picked up and remodeled by some nattily-attired Mandarin-speaking fellow who has his own ideas about what the place ought to be. Since he’s footing the bill, he gets to have it his way.

    Buick offers what the Chinese market wants. We get a few sales on the margins here for old times sake.

  • avatar

    Okay, all you Buick haters. Maybe you might understand how cool Buick can be after watching this video:

    (Starting at 1:05)

    • 0 avatar

      Now I am not sure what I like more, L.A. or Buick.

    • 0 avatar

      If you look closely, you’ll see Ventiports that almost look art-deco in design. Then the Ventiport is then carried over to the front grille, I’m guessing a tri-shield or crest logo is there. The details are very interesting to look at as is what I used to consider a dumpy-looking car (may grandfather had the Oldsmobile version from 1958 that I vaguely remember – I was 3 when he sold it). Randy Newman cruising along with a chick in a convertible adds to the mood. Cool car.

  • avatar

    It’ll be tough turning a Chevy Meriva into a Buick. On the other hand from what I gather the Meriva was pretty much all Opel engineered and the last product GM do Brasil developed w/ any care. Doubt the new Meriva minivan or MVP or microvan for you Americans to get an idea of size will sit on an Aveo. Unless the Aveo will be sitting on an Opel pltform. Something doesn’t sound right. Or was the original Meriva a Koeran GM all along? Then this article makes since. Or the new Meriva sits on a new platform. Then this article also makes sense. If not something is amiss.

  • avatar

    When GM supplied half the cars sold in America there was room for lots of Buick models. Today, not so much.

  • avatar

    Maybe there is hope with the reintroduction of the “Regal” badge. They could have just as easily called it something else insipid like the horrid LaCrosse or Lucerne names. As stated before, the heritage is there in spades: Park Avenue, LeSabre, Electra, Roadmaster, Riviera. How’s about a new full-size Estate Wagon, GM? Now that’s a niche no one is in and I know there’s a market there. Minivans are so gauche, you know.

  • avatar

    In three months the Camry outsells the entire Buick line. It is a pointless division that no longer has a misssion. Didn’t the rebadged Astra already flop for Saturn. GM is just repeating the sames mistakes they have for the last few years. The only difference is that the American public is paying the bill.

  • avatar

    Looks like GM is making a mess of things again.

  • avatar

    The reason GM is reverting back to its old ways is for the simple fact is they still believe they work. In their mind it is the perception gap that is the reason for their problems not their marketing strategy.

    The most contrived thing I have seen all year is Mr. Whitcare doing his Lee Iacocca impression in announcing GM has paid back its government loans. For one Whitcare is no Iacocca and GM paying back the government loan is an outright lie.

    In the next quarter century we will witness GM slowly fade away. This kind of thing just naturally happens over time. The first sign is outsourcing just about all your engineering and design aboard. Eventually, GM’s North American operations will cease to be relevant.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    All this huffing and puffing about Buick seems overblown. The simple fact is that the brand needs to be significantly retooled to survive. What’s wrong with drawing so heavily from Opel? They have some decent offerings that could be competitive with the right pricing and marketing.

    I don’t think that Saturn’s experience necessarily translates to Buick. For one thing, Saturn was too overshadowed by the other GM brands; with all of the brand pruning that should no longer be a problem for Buick. Hopefully GM has also learned a thing or two about properly pricing imports.

    Certainly Buick should continue to anchor its top end with cars that evoke its history. But at a time where even Lexus is moving downmarket and the public has developed more eclectic automotive tastes, why shouldn’t Buick expand into new niches?

    • 0 avatar

      I also don’t understand all the negativity about Buick and GMC. GMC is profitable already, has good product and attracts an upscale customer, which is said to be wealthier than the typical Cadillac Escalade buyer. The only problem with Buick in the past has been that they haven’t had well-executed vehicles. There is nothing wrong with having a line that is nicer than a Chevy but not as pricey as a Caddy. Give them the right product, fix reliabiltiy and they will find their niche.

      Everybody loves value. Give people the Lexus experience (or the illusion of one), but make it cheaper. That sounds like the makings of a very successful strategy. Again, the key is product. Rebadged Chevy’s won’t work. And if everyone remembers, Oldsmobile was once the number 3 brand in America using this “nicer than a Chevy” strategy.

      Saturn’s problem was very simple. Dearth of product + mediocre product + no-haggle pricing. No haggle pricing is always a rip-off. You could always get a better deal on a GM car with a legacy badge than you could with Saturn. For all the people who complain about having to haggle with the dealer, low price (or the illusion of value) usually wins.

  • avatar

    Opels rebadged as Saturns were not successful because Saturn was NEVER a premium brand that would support it. Buick has always been a more upscale brand that people will pay extra bucks for. That’s why the Buick Regal at $26,000-$30,000 will be more succesful than if it was marketed as a Saturn Aura.

    The new small Astra based sedan (please don’t call it Excelle) looks good and will fill a niche for those looking for a more upscale small car that gets 40 mpg on the highway. If the Germans can do small can do small Audis/BMWs/Mercedes, certainly Buick can do the same.

    Regarding the trim levels, it’s the same thing Lincoln is doing, their Premium and Ultimate packages.

    • 0 avatar

      Re: Buick doing the same thing as Lincoln . . . at least Buick seems to have the wisdom not to stick a badge on the car that says “Premium” or “Ultimate” as I remember seeing on so many Sables and Town Cars. Can you imagine if BMW did the same? Under the 535i badge on the trunk lid, one could have tons of badging bling: “Premium,” “sport,” “cold weather,” “convenience,” “dynamic handling,” “driver assistance,” etc.

  • avatar

    “Buick has “almost entirely dropped out of golf”… Instead, it will focus on more grass-roots campaigns and search for customers who shop at Whole Foods and Ikea and drink coffee at Starbucks. These are consumers who want luxury but don’t always want to pay luxury prices.”

    Looks like they’re still chasing the 70-90 year old demographic.

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