A Buick Is in Danger

The Buick Cascada, known to Europeans as the Opel Cascada, appeared on North American shores for the 2016 model year, offering buyers (and renters) a pleasant, four-seat replacement for the discontinued Chrysler 200 drop-top.

Now wholly owned by France’s PSA Group, not General Motors, Opel plans to ditch the model once 2019 is up, meaning America stands to lose its last non-sports car convertible. It would also knock the Buick brand down to five models.

Opel announced Tuesday it would stop building the Cascada, introduced in Europe for 2014, after 2019. The Polish-built convertible and two other small cars “will not be replaced after the end of their life cycles,” the company said.

That seems to kibosh the idea that Opel could continue funnelling Cascadas to Buick, even after dropping the model from its own lineup. The newly Frenchified brand plans to go deeper into crossovers and electrification while dropping slower-selling cars, a strategy that seems to be a template followed by every automaker under the sun.

A Buick spokesman contacted by Motor Authority said the brand has nothing to announce about the model’s American future, but did mention that the Cascada remains an important part of the Buick family. The model draws a higher percentage of new customers to the Buick brand than any other model, the spokesman claimed. Still, the model doesn’t bring in a huge volume of buyers.

By far the slowest selling model in Buick’s lineup, Cascada volume fell 25 percent over the first nine months of 2018. A niche car, the Cascada amounted to 2.2 percent of Buick’s 2018 sales, and that’s after rounding up. The first three quarters of 2017 shows a Cascada take rate of 2.8 percent.

While the model was seldom talked about (it offered a single powertrain consisting of a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 200 hp and 207 lb-ft, or 221 lb-ft in overboost mode), it did provide the Buick brand with a point of interest. Something GM’s other divisions — and indeed, those of other Detroit Three automakers — couldn’t claim. Should the model disappear, the brand becomes less interesting than it already is.

a version of this article first appeared on thetruthaboutcars.com

Comments