Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

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Thread: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

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    Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM
    Buick has a big chance for success with its new small car - if done right
    www.gminsidenews.com
    April 27, 2010
    By: Tony Pimpo



    If you haven't noticed, a lot of the commentaries at GMInsideNews lately have been primarily about Buick. It has been successful so far in implementing its renaissance plan and the buzz on GMI about the brand is proof of that. Sales are up, transaction prices are up and the average buyer age is down.

    This has all been accomplished with only three models - with only two of them being credible entries, the LaCrosse and Enclave. Both are selling well, and attracting younger conquest buyers. However, Buick clearly needs more models to continue on with its renaissance - and it is getting them in the form of the Regal and an upcoming small car.

    With the new small car, Buick in North America and China will be a step further towards getting their product lines completely aligned. The LaCrosse, Enclave and upcoming Regal are common to both markets. If there is a weak link in the current Buick China lineup, it would have to be the Excelle. That is about to change soon when the new model comes. The great thing is that we're getting it, and at exactly the same time too. So for once, key products will be the same. The differences now will have to do with approach. Buick China has the right philosophy about its vehicles from top to bottom, and that makes all of the difference.

    The introduction of a small car comes at a perfect time, as other luxury brands are moving down-market. Audi is introducing A1 (which may come to the United States), Lexus the CT 200h, and there are others that are planning on entering the segment as well. However, those brands have the advantage of a long-standing premium reputation that Buick doesn't have. Buick is on the ascent, but its recovery is still fragile and needs to be carefully managed. With that in mind, the best course of action would be to wait until later on to introduce the new small car. However, waiting is not a luxury GM can afford. Buick needs sales volume, and the timing in terms of marketplace introductions couldn't be much better - for once, GM will not be far behind the competition.


    If the new small car is going to succeed (and that doesn't mean just selling well, it means not damaging the Buick brand), it needs to be done right, and here's how that can be accomplished:

    1. Clear differentiation - In pricing and features, there needs to be a clear separation between the Chevrolet Cruze and Buick small car. That means no stripped Buick models - the quickest way to tear down Buick's newly improved reputation is to have rental-grade compacts running around with black trim and cloth seats.

    As such, the price needs to start high enough to be taken seriously as a luxury compact - not close enough to be cross-shopped with the Cruze and competitors like the Civic. As part of that more premium positioning, it needs to be a cut above with standard features that set it apart in the marketplace. Things like projector or high intensity discharge (HID) headlights, LED taillights, chrome wheels, leather seats, a driver information display and a push-button starter.

    There is other small things that make a difference as well - like chrome along the window greenhouse. Luxury is in the details and every iteration of the Buick small car must offer a premium experience. The way the car can be sold is through packages (which are supposed to be coming to Buick in 2012, and I applaud them for that) that primarily have to do with more powerful engines, a navigation system and added technologies like radar-cruise control. Make no doubt about it, the small Buick should be able to be optioned simarily to the LaCrosse. This is luxury, just smaller.

    2. What's in a name? Everything. You'll notice I've been referring to the new Buick small car as just that - the new Buick small car. The rumored name for the new compact has been pegged as Verano. It doesn't exactly ooze premium to my ears. In fact, it makes me think of the Suzuki Verona, a Daewoo vehicle that resulted from the former General Motors-Suzuki partnership.

    That isn't the best thing to come to mind for a vehicle with premium aspirations. There are many other choices - a new name or old one like Invicta. The Invicta name is premium, and it fits well with the rest of the lineup. There were rumors about the new LaCrosse wearing the name given that GM has kept the trademark alive. With the Regal name being brought back, it certainly is within the realm of possibility.

    3. Proper Marketing - General Motors has been upping its advertising spending, working to get into the minds of consumers again with comparison advertisements that show its new products in a favorable light. For the new Buick small car, I think the best course of action is to stay away from that entirely. Let the public decide which vehicles it really competes against - simply project a premium image through advertising that drives the point in.


    More than any other Buicks in recent history, the Regal and small Buick will be aimed toward young demographics. The small Buick, if done right, has the potential to greatly increase Buick's sales figures and profit margins, as well as attracting a new kind of buyer that could potentially move up to a larger vehicle in the future.

    The thing is, not only can this be done, it is being done - and right now. It just so happens to be happening thousands of miles from our shores, in China. There, Buicks are bought for being stylish and fashionable, and they are sold in modern dealers. Perhaps, Buick North America will begin to not only emulate Buick China's product, but also its success.

    Last edited by nsap; 04-27-2010 at 08:59 PM.

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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    I sure hope they don't screw it up.

    I really hope that it doesn't have the same low-end features as the Cruze. If it does, the Acura CSX and Volvo S40 will have absolutely nothing to worry about.

    Skylark please.
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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Bring back the colored badge. If I bought a Buick I would order one of those badges from china.
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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Please don't name it excelle or invicta. Invicta should be used for a top premium flagship car. Not an Acura RSX type car.
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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Great article. Agreed on all points.
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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    This is very welcome news to me. I must have had my head in the clouds because I was not aware of this model coming to N. America. I do not mind small cars. I drive a G5 after all. I've said more than once that if Buick made a small premium car I'd look seriously at it. A tricked out Buick that has decent punch and can take me places on 6L/100km is exactly what I've been waiting for. Give it AWD and I'm a guaranteed sale. Imagine, a car with all the features and competency of a BMW, yet made by GM. I'd still be interested if it priced out at 45-50K nicely-equipped.

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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    I have said it before and I will say it again, I still like Buick Skylark.

    I agree though, a Buick small car must be very well done. A perfect mix of economy, luxury and sport. Much like I think the Regal is!

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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    I like the tri-shield
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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeeTwentyFour View Post
    I like the tri-shield
    YES YES YES 100 percent agreement! I like the red white and blue tri-shield too. Get rid of the skeleton shield! Hey General are you listening?

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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Quote Originally Posted by dindak View Post
    I have said it before and I will say it again, I still like Buick Skylark.

    I agree though, a Buick small car must be very well done. A perfect mix of economy, luxury and sport. Much like I think the Regal is!
    I remember when I was younger i wanted a skylark just because I like the name. I agree this would be a fantastic car to call Skylark.
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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    I agree completely with everything you said. I'm even considering a LaCrosse CSX loaded because the Regal GS is at least two years away. That and I'm normally not a FWD kind of guy!
    But I'm afraid I don't think Buick will pull it off as premium. From the Chinese model above, you can see the rear taillamps won't be LED's, and I fear, from the LaCrosse and Regal base cars, the HID's will be optional with halogens standard. Big mistake in my opinion!! Also, I wouldn't be suprised to see the interior compromised to have a low base price. I just hope they don't have cheap-o wheels on it!!! I hope I'm wrong, I REALLY DO, but I think they'll have one priced low enough that top line Cruze shoppers will look at it as an alternative.
    Buick needs something that says I'm a premium car and I'm coming your way! Much like Audi has done with it's LED lighting in front. Again, there's time, hope I'm wrong!! I do like the direction Buick is going, I just wish they would spend the extra few dollars it takes to make it truely a luxury brand!

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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Quote Originally Posted by MechEng View Post
    I remember when I was younger i wanted a skylark just because I like the name. I agree this would be a fantastic car to call Skylark.
    I say they should do a Buick convertible model and call THAT the Skylark.

    Dare I suggest bringing back the "Century" nameplate for this small car?

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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Ambalanche View Post
    From the Chinese model above, you can see the rear taillamps won't be LED's, and I fear, from the LaCrosse and Regal base cars, the HID's will be optional with halogens standard.
    Unless GMNA does otherwise, all indications are that the Chinese model is different in many respects.

    At the very least, the interior of the NA model is virtually the same as one of the premium Astra offerings, not the budget version.

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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Agree on all points. The small Buick should also have premium suspension and brake hardware.
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    Re: Buick Small Car: Tread Carefully, GM

    Skylark? Great idea, meatheads. Now let's try a little reality. While it sounds like a great name to Buick fans, to GM fans, or to car fans in general, (and to me too!), it reeks of "crappy 70s/80s Buick product" to the rest of America... the 90% of the population who aren't "into" cars.

    The last thing ANY NEW GM PRODUCT NEEDS is a name that reminds us of ANYTHING from the 1973-2008 period. No Skylarks (though the name predated the decline years)... no Grand Nationals.... no Park Avenues.... none of that garbage.

    The sooner the rotting, festering, stinking corpse of GM's past is buried deep beneath the Earth, the better.

    Saddle this product with any name that reminds half the population of some soggy, troublesome heap of crap driven by their grannies some years ago, and you'll ensure its failure in the marketplace.

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