It seemed for a while that Buick was on the cusp of something great. The company had successfully turned away from the stodgy brand image of decades past and started to produce cars that were sexy and desirable.
For the first time in recent memory, Buicks turned heads on the street and caused many folks to utter the words, “That’s a Buick?”
Unfortunately, good design isn’t the only factor in selling cars. In the near-luxury space, which is where Buick wants to find success, a car must be sexy, youthful, and affordable. Even more importantly, a car has to offer a value proposition that no other car can match.
That’s where Buick has struggled, and the effects are starting to show. The first casualty is the Verano.
Verano sales are currently down by nearly 12 percent in the U.S. for the first four months of the year. The small sedan is Buick’s second worst in terms of growth, just slightly better than the larger LaCrosse‘s 21.7-percent drop during the same period. It shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that GM will pull the Verano from the U.S. market after the 2017 model year, leaving just the Regal, Lacrosse, and the Cascada convertible, in addition to the Enclave and Encore SUVs.
It’s a different story in China. Buyers in the world’s largest auto market have a taste for Buick, and General Motors plans to continue selling the Verano there in numbers it can only dream of in the United States. The Washington Post said,
Eighty percent of all Buicks are sold in China these days. Last year, that amounted to nearly 990,000 vehicles – 4-1/2 times as many sold in the United States.
The bright spots for Buick in the U.S. are its SUVs. The Encore is Buick’s best-selling vehicle here, while Enclave sales are flat compared to last year. The Buick Envision, a small crossover SUV, will be the first car to be sold in the U.S. and made in China. It arrives in showrooms later this summer as a 2016 model, with the 2017 version coming on its heels this fall.
Is there a Buick in your garage or on your shopping list?