Buick's U.S. Lineup May Need More Help From China

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
buicks u s lineup may need more help from china

With official confirmation that the Buick Cascada will eventually be joining the Lacrosse for an extended dirt nap, General Motors’ “lesser” luxury brand has to make a decision. Will Buick press onward with a limited lineup or will it try and find replacements for North America? Considering Buick’s crossover volume moved from around 30 percent of its U.S. sales volume in 2011 to 84 percent in 2018, the marque likely isn’t worried about replacing unloved models. But it’s also unusual for a luxury brand, even a quasi-luxury one like Buick, to go without at full-size sedan.

Further compounding the issue is GM’s continued repositioning as a crossover, pickup, and EV manufacturer. Sedans are playing an increasingly minor role and, with the company having sold its interest in Opel to France’s Groupe PSA in 2017, it can’t lean on Europe for vehicles anymore. But what about China?

Buick already imports the Envision from GM-SAIC, causing some domestic hubbub in the process. However, it’s a viable option. China loves Buick like Germany used to love David Hasselhoff. Last year, the automaker managed to move over 1 million units for the third year running in China. Truth be told, the auto brand’s continued existence could be wholly attributed to its popularity overseas.

“Buick is a big, big player in China. There’s no doubt that’s going to be true for a long time to come,” Phil Brook, vice president of Buick and GMC marketing, told Automotive News during an interview last month. “ opportunities to leverage some models.”

From Automotive News:

Among them could be all-electric vehicles, as GM gears up to meet stricter emissions standards in China. “It would be difficult to get a Buick electric vehicle program like that up and running just for the U.S. market as we sit here today,” Brook said, “but certainly down the track we’ve got great options because of the need in China.”

GM plans to launch at least 20 all-electric or fuel cell-powered vehicles globally by 2023. While Cadillac is expected to lead those plans, Buick will need to introduce new EVs in China to meet upcoming regulations. China is Buick’s and GM’s biggest market.

Future trade deals and import tariffs will ultimately decide how feasible it would be to source more product from China. However, the region’s current lineup doesn’t have any standout contenders. We’re definitely in for a bit of a wait to see what they cook up, unless they pull out of the U.S. market entirely — which would be fine, depending upon who you’re asking.

[Image: General Motors]

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6 of 68 comments
  • Akear Akear on Feb 18, 2019

    Without the Lacrosse nobody in our immediate family will ever venture into a Buick dealership. The Altima alone outsells the entire Buick division. When a division can't even sell 250,000 vehicles a year I would say there is little point of it being around

  • Darex Darex on Feb 19, 2019

    What if PSA bought all the Buick dealerships from GM?

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