By on February 17, 2019

Image: GM

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. “[That provides] 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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68 Comments on “Buick’s U.S. Lineup May Need More Help From China...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    China loves Buick because their last Emperor the beloved Pu Yi drove one and it was a lovely specimen…

    https://i1.wp.com/www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/1200-Pu-Yi-Car-1.jpg

    … yellow steelies optional

    Buick needs to stick with what Buick knows best and to me that’s conservative, American-looking, near-luxury vehicles. GM screwed-up the Cadillac by turning it’s back on it’s very American, luxury legacy, that’s all anybody wanted from Cadillac

  • avatar
    jatz

    “Will Buick press onward with a limited lineup..?”

    Yes, limited to vehicle types that actually sell.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    Chinese built vehicles should be banned here until issues of fair trade have been resolved.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      All voluntary trades are fair trades. Both parties win.

      Maybe you meant you want to control what trades I do. Fair to you for reasons that have nothing to do with why I trade?

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        GM is shrinking bigtime in the US and is desperate to show growth anywhere – so after failing in the rest of the world GM found a market that clicks.

        Except it’s only temporary. China will squeeze GM out when they’re done harvesting what they need.

        Hopefully Ford won’t fall for it like GM did.

  • avatar
    TS020

    “Buick is a big, big player in China. There’s no doubt that’s going to be true for a long time to come,”

    Oh dear. That’s gonna be a quote to come back and bite him in the ass.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      exactly

      China probably has Buick’s demise already planned as it switches its citizens to domestic brands.

      Plus, I read that Buick sales in China may be high, but their profits are slight. GM intends to make huge profits selling Chinese Buicks in the US, but I expect they will flop because people see what China is up to.

      • 0 avatar
        jatz

        “people see what China is up to”

        Which association is more offputting to the American car buyer: a Buick made in China or a Buick made by GM?

      • 0 avatar
        Trucky McTruckface

        “China probably has Buick’s demise already planned as it switches its citizens to domestic brands.”

        This should be obvious to anyone who pays attention to how things work in China, but foolish Western executives keep betting big on China like the party is never going to stop.

        And since I have a decidedly low opinion of corporations like GM that throw their employees and home markets under the bus chasing the quick buck in China, I’m going to find it absolutely hilarious when the Chinese show them the door.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Most people won’t know or care where their Buick is built

  • avatar
    NN

    Buick’s existence is due to China, so sure, why not. Even if sales dwindle to 30,000 cars in the USA, in China they’ll be able to say their Chinese Buicks are so good they export them to America, so Chinese sales may go up 10-20% and more than make up for it. Then GM should wholesale sell Buick to SAIC flat-out for billions, after all, they are making money in China now but Chinese brands likely will continue to take market share from foreign mid market brands.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Here’s the QOTD: Would Buicks sell in China if they weren’t sold in North America?

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I don’t think the Chinese consumer has any idea what sells in N. America, they have preconceived ideas as what what cars are desirable and they decided back in the 30s that Buicks were desirable because their Emperor drove one

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          Can you imagine the stir fried mess of cultural, economic and social factors that motivate an average Chinese buyer’s (whatever that is) decision making process?

          I agree that the average Chinese’s vaguest glimmer or our own gumbo of automotive culture ain’t much of a factor.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @NM–Agree sell Buick to the Chinese because eventually it will have little or no value in the US and even in China where Chinese brands will eventually take away market share. Sell before Buick becomes worthless.

    @el scotto–We might soon get that answer if GM limits Buick to the 3 crossover models, but then again GM might prop up Buick in the USA to sell GMCs which are very profitable.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      They need Buick around to have a dealer network to pair GMC dealers with. Not so far back, it was Pontiac, but they’re gone, and so is Oldsmobile. Cadillacs have always been sold in standalone dealerships (except in small towns, where they could be paired with just about any GM make). And I don’t see Cadillac-GMC dealerships in GM’s future.

      Could GMC make it in a standalone dealership scenario? That’s a giant maybe.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    If GM had any vision (instead of the insipid Envision), they’d figure out how to turn a profit on a legitimately premium Buick halo model that, with a bit of effective promotion, could keep the lights on for the brand in America while they chart a meaningful way forward. The LaCrosse is a nice enough car, but nobody wants a full-size, FWD sedan. Ditto on the Regal, which is almost as big a failure here as it is Australia wearing Holden Commodore badges. But a Camaro-based Riviera, with just the right image and marketing (as opposed to the “THAT’S NOT A BUICK!” crap)? Could be worth a shot.

    Instead, GM’s going to be GM and try to milk Buick to death with a fleet of stupid me-too crossovers that bring nothing unique to the market versus any other stupid crossover from GM or anybody else. They don’t know what to do with the brand, so they should just really throw in the towel.

    Same goes for Cadillac. Unless GM had the guts to push Caddy WAY upmarket, one of these two brands needs to die. Instead, they keep mucking about with endless half-baked derivatives of the same platforms with the same powertrains, and they’re going to end up finishing off both brands.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I concur. I’m particularly surprised by the new XT6. There’s probably not anything on it that’s worth it’s (assured) premium over the Enclave. So the two models will either be priced right on top of each other, or the XT6 will be really overpriced.

      Note: the XT6 is a unique size on the C1XX platform, sized between the smaller Blazer, Acadia and XT5, and larger Enclave and Traverse. But…still.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        So, the Cadillac XT6 is actually smaller then the Traverse/Enclave? That’s a somewhat surprising niche for Cadillac. Always used to be the biggest and nicest of all the GMs, but that was a long time ago

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          XT6 is roughly the size of the current Acadia which IS smaller than the Traverse/Enclave.

          Can’t have the XT6 stealing any sales from big brother Escalade right? (Which would only happen in the minds of GM executives and nowhere else.)

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      No, no, no. Profits and efficient use of capital are more scrutinized than ever. A Riviera would bomb… next to nobody wants big expensive coupes, especially from American brands. Similarly GM spent the last 40 years vaporizing Cadillac’s brand equity… Cadillac can’t sell a $60K vehicle that’s not an Escalade; they’d have to shutter the brand if they tried to move vehicles with a 1 before that.

      Like I said GM has about 40 years of ill will to unravel. Trying to cash in on brand equity they don’t have by making halo cars that nobody will buy and that will do nothing to help their volume sellers is just a terrible idea. Please let this meme die.

      • 0 avatar
        hpycamper

        Halo cars are for companies that think long term.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I’d argue the opposite. Honda, Toyota… the two car companies most focused on the long term…. no halo cars. Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet…. all short term focused, with halo cars one could argue came at the expense of the rest of the brand. Same with Nissan and the GT-R. Outside of the Maxima the rest of the lineup sucks.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            The Acura NSX is a Honda everywhere other than the US. The Land Cruiser is a bit of a halo car for Toyota, considering it costs more than most vehicles sold by Lexus. Toyota is also in the midst of a marketing blitz for a badge-engineered BMW they’re calling a Supra. It’s like the emperor’s new halo car.

          • 0 avatar
            hpycamper

            Honda: NSX, Civic Type R
            Toyota: Supra, Century, LFA
            I doubt any of these make enough profit to be justified if profit is the only motive.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    The Commerce Department was due to deliver a secret report to the President today whether imported cars “threaten national security”. A positive finding starts a 90 day clock for a decision whether to impose a 25% tariff on imports.

    If Congress approves the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, they will be exempt.

    I have read opinions both ways whether Korean imports would be impacted.

    If Korean products are tariffed as well as European and Chinese products, Buick would lose the Cascada, Regal, Envision and Encore. GM sticks a fork in the Lacrosse March 1. That would leave Buick with exactly one model to sell, the Enclave.

  • avatar

    Does Honda sells majority of its vehicles in US? Does it even relevant in JDM and should they pull out from Japan and become all American brand?

  • avatar

    Another question is “Would Japanese buy Hondas made in US?”. Be it me I would avoid Honda if it is not made in Japan. If it is made in China it is perfectly well with me.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Already happens. My son formerly worked at East Liberty driving the right-hand drive Honda’s from assembly to the shipping lot for transport to Japan. He got the job because he knew how to drive right-handers when he was stationed as a Marine in Okinawa.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        RHD requires special skills? News to me!

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          With an automatic, no. With a manual, yes (shifting gears with your left hand). Sure, you could pick up the skill fairly quickly, but the drive from the plant to the lot was probably short (and maybe only in first and second gears) – not like driving an RHD car all the time. And since he was already used to driving RHD, zero training needed.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            ^^This, since the world is predominantly right handed I’ve always found it curious that some of the world chose the more difficult RHD position

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Lie2me: Weapon hand toward oncoming riders, whereas most other countries preferred the shield hand towards oncoming riders.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Or how about Japan simply adopting every standard they could from the dominant naval and industrial power at a time when Japan was aspiring to become a naval and industrial power?

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Honda has been shipping cars made in the US to Japan for about 30 years.

  • avatar
    jatz

    “GM’s continued repositioning as a crossover, pickup, and EV manufacturer”

    Sam Kinison: MOVE WHERE THE FOOD IS!

  • avatar

    This will not happen due to Trump tariffs.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      You’re probably right but at least he gave America’s trading partners a good whomp upside the head for an attitude adjustment.

      Long overdue.

      It’s nice that America’s trading partners no longer treat America as a doormat.

      R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Buick’s lineup needs help from somebody who is not in any way connected to GM; their automotive designs have become pure crap.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The last good-looking Buick was the 1986 LeSabre T-type.

      • 0 avatar
        jatz

        SOMEBODY’S WRONG ON THE INTERNET!!

        The most recent and still the best looking Buick is the Enclave, especially the 1st generation.

        Somebody in its original design team loved feminine cues, as do I and as did the classic Impala designers.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I really think the current (2019) Enclave nails the big classic Buick. Kudos to the Buick designers who were tasked with making a Traverse into a Buick. I almost wish they would rename it “Electra 225”

        • 0 avatar
          kcflyer

          Agreed. Love how my 08 Enclave looks. Fell in love when the concept and later production model were released back in 2007. The new one is not nearly as nice inside or out IMO. Even in “Avenir” trim. Also, while the powertrain in mine is fine I would have expected more power and or efficiency after 11 years in the new model. All GM has done is add a couple cogs to the transmission and call it a day.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Have you ever thought of getting an Encore as well? I think having an Enclave for when the kids and grandkids come for a visit along with a “mini-me” Encore as the daily grocery getter make a nice Buick team

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Wrong? Maybe in your eyes. I still prefer the ’65 through ’75 models myself but I owned the ’86 and loved it. Have not owned a Buick since and don’t like ANY of the current models. To my eye, Buick should have been shut down, not Oldsmobile, but GM had already destroyed Oldsmobile and were doing a serious number on Pontiac when they shut those two marques down. The only reason Buick survived was because they were selling so well in China and apparently still are.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I think the LaCrosse is pretty good looking.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I like the Encore but I just don’t see the value equation in small CUV’s in general. The next size up (crv, rav 4, equinox, etc) seem to me better overall vehicles. Before I would buy an Encore size CUV i’d go by another traditional hatch back car. I will say I like the looks of the Encore. The Envision is a non starter. I realize it’s irrational but buying a Chinese made vehicle from an American company just seems a bridge to far for me.

  • avatar

    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

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      So, people in your immediate family buy Buick sedans regularly? Okay, how many 2019 Lacrosses are in your driveway? 4? 6? I bet its 6.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      By this insane “logic”, Ferrari should go out of business, as the Buick Regal outsold its whole brand. But logic has never been akear’s strong suit.

    • 0 avatar

      @akear Get your facts straight instead coming here and trolling given opportunity and somehow it is always about Ford or GM.

      Buick sold 1.4 million vehicles two years in row:

      https://media.buick.com/media/us/en/buick/home.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2018/jan/0112-buick-sales.html

      In all due respect I cannot believe your crowing about Nissan unloading the same or more amount of Altimas. I know that you are die hard Nissan fan but still be gentleman.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Buick is still out selling Acura…

  • avatar
    darex

    What if PSA bought all the Buick dealerships from GM?


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