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Buick is down to only one car

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For now, Buick executives say they aren't concerned about the shrinking car lineup, which will lose the LaCrosse large sedan following the scheduled end of production for the domestic market next month, and the Opel-derived Cascada convertible that will end production this summer. That will leave Buick with just one car nameplate, the Opel-derived Regal, to go with the three crossovers: Enclave, Envision and Encore.

One Regal model, the TourX all-wheel-drive wagon, is marketed by Buick as having the capabilities of a crossover. It helped the Regal rack up a 22 percent gain in sales last year, despite little or no incentive support for leasing.

Buick's crossover volume has shifted from roughly a third of its U.S. sales volume in 2011 to 84 percent in 2018, the fourth consecutive year crossovers outsold cars for Buick. Helping to lead that shift was the Encore, imported from South Korea, which has roughly tripled in sales since arriving in 2013 to more than 93,000 units and represented 45 percent of the brand's sales last year.

The Encore's success is one reason Aldred decided to kill the compact Verano sedan for the U.S. market in 2016.

Even so, Buick executives say there's enough differentiation between Buick's crossover-dominated lineup and the GMC products sold in their combined dealerships. Buick and GMC, according to Aldred and Brook, have created separate identities: GMC as the more rugged and "crafted" one, while Buick is elegant and "obtainable, quiet luxury."

"The character is very well-defined," Aldred said last month referring to Buick. "We just have to keep playing that formula."

A decade ago, during General Motors' bankruptcy, Buick's prominence in China helped save the brand from getting axed. Moving forward, Buick may need to lean more heavily on GM's China operations to help fill its domestic lineup.
Buick has long depended on GM's international affiliates for product: The current lineup includes crossovers developed by GM's China and South Korea divisions, and car models from the Opel operation in Europe, which GM sold in 2017.
But as that lineup gets shuffled as part of Buick's shift to crossovers, GM's restructuring and a long-range shift to electric cars, GM China is poised to play a bigger role.

That doesn't necessarily mean importing additional vehicles from China — as Buick does with the Envision compact crossover — so much as combining resources and making vehicles for both markets, executives said.

Source: Automotive News
 
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