Nosedive! Wonder Why GM Killed Pontiac And Not Buick? Now It’s Wondering Too

Things are not good with Buick right now. Its production numbers have seen a nosedive this year with no end in sight. Back in 2010 when GM went bankrupt and needed to shed some divisions, it chose to keep Buick and GMC but dumped Pontiac, Saturn, Saab, and Hummer. The reason it kept the brand and GMC instead of dropping them was profit, it made a lot on those vehicles. And Buick had caché in China, which GM was ready to make an assault on. 

How bad is Buick bleeding?

Buick dealership
A Buick dealership in China | LIU JIN/AFP via Getty Images

But many wondered why it didn’t keep Pontiac and dump Buick instead, and it sure must be wondering now as sales year-over-year have plunged almost 50 percent. We don’t have to tell you that in this seller’s market, that’s bad. Through the third quarter this year, it has sold 76,547 compared to last year through Q3 with 163,745 according to GoodCarBadCar. And compared to other brands under the GM umbrella, it looks even worse. 

All of GM’s divisions have seen slight drops in sales in 2022. Chevrolet lost 3.9 percent, Cadillac is down 0.3 percent, and GMC is down two percent. But those losses are nothing near 50 percent. Whether it is the lack of microchips or lack of demand is hard to say. But whatever it is could give GM a reason to cut Buick.

Buick has too many dealerships

Buick deaslership
Vehicles sit on the lot at the Coggin Pontiac Buick GMC auto dealership | Matt Stroshane/Bloomberg via Getty Images

And there is another dark cloud swirling over it, the number of dealerships in its U.S. network stands at 2,000.  That’s way too many relative to the number of cars it sells. Toyota has 1,500. Nissan has 1,078. Jeep has 2,415, but look at how many Jeeps are sold every year. It ranges from 800,000 to 900,000 going back over a decade. 

But there could be a silver lining awaiting the automaker with its mandate to go all-electric by 2030. Toward that goal, it is asking dealers to cough up big money to be in the vanguard of EV sales, service, and parts. If you’re not in, GM will buy these dealers out. The hope is that many will pass allowing those dealers to close up and reduce the bloated network. 

Buick and GMC trucks sold on the same lots causes conflicts

GMC dealership
GMC pickup trucks lined up on a dealership lot | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Spread out on average, these numbers show that individual dealers are selling under 40 Buicks for the year. Granted, it is never an even allocation as some markets, Like Los Angeles are huge. But that begs the question what are smaller dealers doing to survive?

Most have GMC trucks. And that may also be part of Buick’s problems. Even if a buyer bounces onto the lot to purchase an Enclave or Encore, they can be directed to various GMC models. Especially when it comes to trucks since there are bigger margins than with compact crossovers. 

So the way Buick and GMC dealers are dueled is maybe another issue for GM’s brain trust. There are many complexities with divisions sharing both the development of platforms and production lines, so there are other reasons to stick with Buick. But honestly, this really doesn’t look good for Buick’s longevity with General Motors. 

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