Buick Tells TTAC To Pump The Brakes, It's All Good - We Never Said It Wasn't

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
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buick tells ttac to pump the brakes it s all good we never said it wasn t

Buick is all about China, where the brand claims more than 5 percent market share.

Buick’s achievements in the United States, once storied, are now not nearly so impressive. Buick’s market share in America today is half what it was in 2002, after volume declined in eight of 14 years, tumbling from more than 430,000 sales 14 years ago to 223,055 last year.

This is part of the Buick story we told you yesterday. In touting record global sales as one of the planet’s fastest-growing volume brands, Buick’s General Motors parent company also made clear that the brand is achieving rapidly increased rates of sales because of the Chinese market, even though U.S. sales are declining, albeit marginally.

Following our managing editor’s press of the publish button, we almost immediately heard from Buick.

“We’re launching three all-new products in this market this year (Cascada, Envision, LaCrosse) as well as updating a fourth (Encore) after a long stretch where we were more reliant on successful marketing than new products to maintain momentum in North America,” Stuart Fowle, Buick’s communications manager, told TTAC via email.

“Cascada is not a volume player and the other three, which are, have either not arrived or are only available in limited supply. The Enclave, now in the market for eight years, is pacing for its best July ever.”

That’s fair.

Buick, says Fowle, will post impressive July growth even as the brand prepares to wind down the discontinued Verano, in large part because of the launch of new models. Moreover, the brand’s two established crossovers are selling in healthy numbers. The Encore is a top-flight subcompact crossover competitor. The ancient Enclave and its Lambda platform siblings from Chevrolet and GMC combined for more than 117,000 first-half sales, not an inconsiderable sum for vehicles launched the year before Barack Obama was elected president.

Wrote GM’s Fowle: “Buick reaches much further into the mainstream in China than in the U.S. The top seller is the Excelle, an affordable sedan that wouldn’t make sense for the U.S.”

We would point out here that Buick rather recently reached deep into the American mainstream, as well; that consumers quickly began reacting negatively to Buick more than a decade ago; that Buick’s attempt to reposition itself as a premium brand — if successful — will take time.

Moreover, Buick has been and is selling an affordable sedan in the U.S.: the Verano. It’s Buick’s best-selling passenger car in America. But GM is ending the Verano’s U.S. run. As for the Encore’s superior volume in the U.S. market, we have no desire to argue with facts.

Thus, we’re left to wonder whether Buick’s U.S. outpost suffers from something of an identity crisis. Less a desire to convey Buick’s strength relative to GM’s perceived Buick rivals in the U.S. — Fowle’s email did mention that, “Buick outsells Acura and Infiniti and sells double the volume of Lincoln,” — Buick’s response to TTAC seems more taken up by distracting us from our conclusion that Buick is a Chinese-intensive automotive brand.

As we mentioned yesterday, more than 80 percent of Buick sales now occur in China. If Buick’s U.S. sales in the first-half of 2016 declined 100 percent, global Buick volume would still have increased because of Buick’s position as the fifth-best-selling brand in China, the world’s largest auto market.

GM is entitled to own these facts, to shout from the mountaintops that Buick’s current successes are based almost entirely on its Chinese strength (and despite its diminished status in the United States), to proclaim that GM’s historic efforts to capitalize on the Chinese auto industry’s growth are paying off. But this isn’t the first time Buick has spoken up when seemingly concerned by North American media attention regarding its China-centric nature. It likely won’t be the last.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Doug-g Doug-g on Jul 29, 2016

    GM is selling Buicks to people who want Buicks regardless of where those Buick yearning people live. Move along, nothing to see here.

  • Geozinger Geozinger on Jul 29, 2016

    I have to laugh, as part of TTAC's authentication system, I now have to prove my humanity... by doing addition? I thought my humanity will be proven after my expiry and folks can judge what I've done to help my fellow man... All along, I could have proven it with arithmetic... Who knew? If there really is someone at Buick listening: I'd really like to put in a vote for the Adam. We're looking at downsizing for the next vehicle. My wife wants a MINI, I do not. Outside of a Fiat 500 there's nothing really close and she doesn't want a Fiat. Also, I'm amazed at how good that U van looks with updated Buick sheetmetal hung all over it. I think that could be saleable here.

  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.
  • IBx1 Awww my first comment got deletedTake your “millennial anti theft device” trope and wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones keeping manuals around.
  • ToolGuy "Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC; Mercedes-Benz"• I bet I can tell you which is which.