Buick Is Toast: 2023 Starts off Bad
We’ve covered Buick’s tenuous place among the General Motors juggernaut of brands before. It leads GM’s Chinese zeitgeist, leading all of the automakers’ brands. But here in the U.S., it’s like a tire with a leak, slowly deflating its sales as it stands firm in China. So what’s GM doing with the brand?
How bad are the Buick sales figures?
Since 2021, the company has seen sales fall off a cliff by almost 50%. As Autoweek points out, in that same period Chevrolet saw sales dip by 3.9%. Bookended by Cadillac, it has seen a dip of 0.3% in the same period. So at one end is an under four percent dip, and at the other end is an imperceptible dip. In the middle is Buick, down by 47.2%.
To help both Buick and GMC sales, most of those two brands are dualed, meaning combined they sell at single dealerships. The automaker has pronounced it will be all-electric by 2030. So, as GM did with its Cadillac dealers, it is offering dealerships the option to beg out, and not invest in what GM sees as necessary to address electric-powered Buick sales and service.
How will GM increase profits from Buick?
So those that choose to pass, GM will provide a buyout. For Cadillac dealers, more than a third of dealers chose to take the buyout. For them, it was necessary to fork over $200,000 to upgrade facilities including education for service techs, in order to keep their GM dealership.
The company has 2,000 U.S. dealerships. Combined, they sold 86,000 cars in 2022. BMW has 350 U.S. dealers, and they sold 254,000. Want more? Audi has 325 dealerships in the U.S. They sold almost 150,000 Audis last year. You can see that the automaker, with exponentially more shops, is selling exponentially fewer Buicks compared to these other brands.
What does Buick sell here, and what sells in China?
Right now, Buick builds the Encore GX in South Korea and the Envision in China. The only other Buick, the Enclave, is assembled in Michigan. Its proposed Electra EV sedan, which it calls a crossover, but is definitely a lifted sedan, needs a plant to produce it. As zoomy as the concept is, we expect, as is usual with GM, for it to be far more pedestrian.
Nonetheless, as coupes and sedans in the U.S. have been abandoned by manufacturers, it’s doubtful the Electra gets sold here. Instead, it is a Chinese-only vehicle. So this is yet, another model made in Asia. At some point, there is a situation of diminishing returns when three out of four of your vehicles come from Asia. That, combined with its diminishing sales here, spells doom for Buick. There is no reason for it to exist within the GM universe.
Within the GM major-domo stewardship of Buick, diminishing returns means Buick’s days marketed in the U.S. are coming to an end. It’s truly unfortunate, but the auto industry is going through massive reorganization in light of the EV revolution. Buick will be its latest victim, but only here.