China Accounts for 80 Percent of New Buick Sales

Is Buick North America simply a cipher for the Chinese market? 

Tim Cain over at TTAC writes “If Buick’s U.S. sales in the first-half of 2016 declined 100 percent, global Buick volume would still have increased because of Buick’s position as the fifth-best-selling brand in China, the world’s largest auto market.”

80 percent of all new Buicks are currently bought in China–good, great, whatever– the problem isn’t so much where the volume is coming from but how the volume comes.

Buick’s popularity in China is almost entirely based on Buick being American, the Chinese buy Buicks because we buy Buicks–the two are co-dependent but far from equal.

Look it’s not as if Buick is ignoring the American market, their comms manager, Stuart Fowle, told TTAC “Buick outsells Acura and Infiniti and sells double the volume of Lincoln.”

But Buick NA doesn’t really have anything of its own besides the LaCrosse and Enclave. The Encore came from South Korea, the Regal and Cascada from Opel, the Envision was sent over from China and the Verano is dead.

In an abstract way Buick North America nearly functions are the marketing arm of Buick in China, but it’s a Catch-22. As Buick increases in popularity with the Chinese, Americans are more and more sensitive to the fact they’re not driving the bus.

Ironically the fate of cars Americans do want, like the Avista, would seem to lie entirely in Chinese hands.

Buick very much needs the North American market, just not in the hard and fast ways you would think.