Chart Of The Day: Buick's Fast Fall And Steady Rise

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Through the first nine months of 2014, U.S. Buick volume is up 8% to 170,764 units, nearly 50,000 sales back of Lexus, sales of which have risen 16%. Though Buick, the 19th-best-selling auto brand in America, trails Lexus, the 18th-best-selling brand, by a wide margin, Buick has opened up a wide lead over America’s three next-best-selling brands, Audi, Cadillac, and Acura.

Three-quarters of 2014 tells us only a very little bit about Buick’s recent history. Compared with 2002, when today’s COTD begins, only one Buick nameplate still exists. And while Buick owned 2.6% of the overall U.S. market in 2002 – and GM 28.6% – Buick’s market share through the first three-quarters of 2014 stands at 1.4%.

Buick marketed four cars and an SUV in 2002; three cars and two crossovers from opposite ends of the size spectrum in 2014. Buick’s collapse began long before the size of the U.S. auto industry began to dramatically shrink in the latter portion of 2008. Buick sales slid 22% in 2003. (The four brands which currently sell in the most Buick-like numbers all posted increases in 2003, as the market fell 1%.) Between 2002 and 2007, Buick volume shrunk by 57% as the market slid 4%.

Since 2009’s crash, however, Buick’s U.S. sales have more than doubled, far greater than the growth achieved by the industry as a whole, which at approximately 60% could make 2014 the highest-volume calendar year since 2006.

Buick’s climb back up the leaderboard is not occurring as quickly as did its slide down the leaderboard a decade ago. Of course, we don’t expect Buick to sell more than 160,000 copies of something like the Century in 2014. GM has Buick’s sights set higher. (Granted, Buick generates 41% of its U.S. volume with its entry-level models, the Verano and Encore, but that’s down from the 47% produced by the Century and Regal in 2002.)

Buick passenger car sales are up 0.3% to 88,410 units in 2014. Enclave sales have fallen 1% to 45,921. Encore volume is up 59% to 36,433. Encore aside, Buick sales would be up by 221 units this year, a 0.2% gain.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

Timothy Cain
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  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Oct 27, 2014

    I meant to post this as a reply but cannot find the original post that I meant to reply to. :-( For decades Buicks were the 'smart mans' luxury. Meaning not ostentatious but reliable and comfortable. In Canada this may have started with the original McLaughlin Buick, which had a very high reputation. We had one Conservative Prime Minister in the 50's/60's who refused to be seen in a Cadillac (or Lincoln) due to the connotation attached to them of being a high roller/out of touch/carpetbagger/shyster. So the Buick became the car of Doctors, accountants etc. Solid, safe and reliable. And if someone you trusted drove one, then if you could afford to do so, then why not. It became an aspirational car for those who remembered the Depression. Unfortunately, they (as all of us) grow old and thus Buick became associated with old drivers. "If you see anyone under the age of 50 driving a Buick, then offer your condolences on their recent loss". Due to a recent loss, we have inherited a Buick. Yes some of the interior quality is offputting. The fake plastic wood is cracking and peeling. For some strange reason there is no grab handle anywhere on the trunk. It has the unfortunate GM hidden wipers, designed by the Devil or someone who has never driven/lived in an area that gets any snow. There is no middle rear seat headrest or lit 'make-up' mirrors on the visors, things that come standard on a Kia. However the 3.8 is smooth and reliable. The car is quiet. The A/C & heater are powerful. And I like the somewhat floaty ride. We are going to keep it and I am quite sure will get many trouble free years/miles of understated driving. Buick's problem may be that younger generations put more emphasis on style over substance and would rather lease an expensive and unreliable German vehicle than own an understated and reliable American one that no longer has a prestigious badge.

  • Mechaman Mechaman on Nov 03, 2014

    All this talk, and you guys got me doing some window shopping for Buicks. Now I'm seriously looking at a Regal (well, looking, no money yet) and I could see myself in one. My first impression: clean, in and out. No sci-fi styling (I'm talking to YOU, Altima), yet not dull. Hmmm...my Fusion cells are protesting...damn it.

  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
  • ToolGuy Helium-3, baby!
  • Roman Our 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Gt is still running without any issues. 25 years and counting.
  • 28-Cars-Later I thought today's young people weren't even getting licenses to drive, so which is it?
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