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Old 11-29-2006, 08:37 AM   #1
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Default GM Targets Smaller, More Profitable Buick Brand

GM Targets Smaller, More Profitable Buick Brand


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - General Motors Corpis prepared to nearly halve the number of Buick models it offers in the United States as it tries to reestablish the luxury brand in its home market, GM's chief executive said on Tuesday.

Rick Wagoner, speaking to reporters at the unveiling of the 2008 Buick Enclave, said the automaker would also reduce Buick sales to rental car companies as it shifts toward targeting more profitable retail sales with upcoming new designs.

Although Buick has offered as many as seven models in recent years, Wagoner said GM was prepared to accept lower unit sales with about four models in order to try to capture more showroom traffic and shun lower-margin sales to car rental companies.

"In the end we're going to let it flow. But what we're going to do is to make sure we make three and then four really good (Buick models)," Wagoner told reporters.

GM has been pushing dealerships to consolidate into stores that offer its GMC trucks along with Buick and Pontiac models.

Wagoner said that push combined with the success of Buick in China would help turn the brand around in the U.S. market, where it has struggled to attract a younger generation of buyers.

"We've had a terrific run in China with Buick," he said. "Buick sells to the upper crust in China. That's going to open up some opportunities over time for product sharing that we wouldn't have had or even thought of five years ago."

He added: "We don't have to play hard in daily rental with Buick because frankly we've got other brands to play that role. We want to run a lot of volume through Chevrolet. It is the brand that should play broadly and if we need to push for some volume that's the place to push for it. Buick, we can focus."

GM is showing off the production version of the Buick Enclave, at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The five-door luxury vehicle is expected to compete against the Acura MDX from Honda Motor Co as well as the Lexus RX 350 from Toyota Motor Corp

Production of the Enclave is expected to begin in mid-April, with dealer inventory available by early June.

GM has said it expects up to 40 percent of the buyers for the Enclave could come from those now driving rival brands as it targets younger, more affluent customers.

Analysts have given the Enclave high marks for its interior styling, quiet ride and relative fuel efficiency as one of a growing number of car-based "crossover" utility vehicles.

Crossover vehicles offer the roomy cabin of an SUV with the handling of a passenger car and have been one of the few bright spots in a contracting U.S. auto market.

Golf star Tiger Woods, who has a five-year promotional deal with GM, will play a central role in marketing the Enclave and appeared with Wagoner for the vehicle's unveiling.

Wagoner, who declined to discuss specific future product plans, said the Enclave pointed to the direction of GM's plans for the brand which he said was profitable on a global basis.

"We can tailor the products much more against a market here in the U.S. which has fragmented quite a bit," Wagoner said. "And we can set up the distribution network so that the dealers can make money by putting Pontiac, Buick and GMC together."
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Old 11-29-2006, 09:44 AM   #2
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buick still makes cars? only buick worth noting in the past 20 yrs is the grand national

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Old 11-29-2006, 01:11 PM   #3
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I had heard that Buick is selling more units in china then they are here. The "Buicks" in china are badge engineered Opels I believe. They are not even related to the cars they sell here.


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Old 11-29-2006, 01:23 PM   #4
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Most of the Buicks sold in China are the ones sold here, but with nicer touches like Xenon lights, active cruise, etc. The over all quality looks better too.
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Old 11-29-2006, 03:16 PM   #5
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Old people want smaller cars?
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Old 11-29-2006, 04:44 PM   #6
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Buick actually does OK. There is no need for a performance Buick, they will be geared to go at Lexus. The Enclave is a good looking vehicle hell of alot better than a Tribeca.
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Old 11-29-2006, 06:25 PM   #7
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My guess is that GM will get rid of Buick. There is no need for the brand any more since it has been shown time and time again that a single nameplate can sell entry-level luxury and full luxury cars (Acura, BMW, Lexus, etc). This is what Caddy can do for GM. Buicks sold in the $20,000 range are viewed as simply having "stolen" a sale from Pontiac or Chevy.

Crazy vision of the future: Pontiac and GMC are redundant brands as well. All you will see from GM one day is Chevy, Saturn, Hummer (maybe) and Caddy. There is absolutely no need for Buick/Pontiac/GMC. They'd do this sooner, but the legal nightmare to follow would be too much (there are still lawsuits out there over Oldsmobile).
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Old 11-29-2006, 06:54 PM   #8
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Gm doesn't really need to get rid of any more brands... what they are planning now makes total sense actually.

Buick will just not be a full-line brand anymore. Same with Pontiac and same with GMC. If GMC handles the luxury truck market, while Buick handles the old-money car/cross-over market, I think they can do pretty good if paired together in the same dealership. Then Pontiac could be sold in Chevy dealerships as the performance division. That would limit the number of rebadging, yet still offer up an alternate, higher-end car versus Chevy which would be aimed at middle-America. And Saturn would be a full-line division aimed at slightly higher-end import buyers.
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Old 11-29-2006, 07:39 PM   #9
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buick is gearing up to be a legit lexus fighter. have you seen the interior of the enclave...and the lucerne for that matter? Once they kill off the badge engineered terazza, rainier, and rendezvous, which they plan to do and introduce the enclave...i will have a lot more respect for them. good move gm....ford could take a few pointers.
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