Let the speculation begin as to what Buick is up to with this heritage name.
May 9, 2012
By: Nick Saporito
Leveraging historical nameplate for new products has been a highly debated issue for several automakers, but perhaps even more so with Buick. The brand's rich history of nameplates leaves a smorgasbord of monikers to bring back for new products; of which, Buick has plenty of to put the names to use with. One such historical nameplate at Buick that has already been talked about and even utilized in the recent past is Riviera. The name was leveraged for the 2007 Buick Riviera concept vehicle that debuted in China; a car that garnered much fanfare, but never was granted the green-light for production, leaving the stunning concept and the legendary name with no certain future, perhaps until now. GMI has learned that General Motors has filed for the trademark of the Riviera name, citing it for use on automobiles.
Before the speculation enters, it's worth noting that automakers fairly regularly trademark all kinds of names. In fact, Ford Motor Company has trademarked nearly every alphabetical "MK" name for their Lincoln brand, even though they will likely never utilize all of them. On the flip side, GM has been more conservative with their trademarks; with the Chevrolet Sonic trademark providing a means of validating the car's name way before GM announced it. Nonetheless, GM did file for the trademark on May 3rd.
At this point it is really anyone's guess as to which Buick product would wear the nameplate. GMI was told nearly a year ago that the brand was soliciting GM management for authorization to produce a sporty coupe, possibly based on the rear-wheel drive Alpha platform. In fact, one GM executive dropped strong hints to GMI at last year's North American International Auto Show of the potential of a return of the Riviera in rear-wheel drive form. At this time no such product is within the product plans, though most of GM's product plans beyond 2015 are still preliminary and not set in stone. If this car were to happen, it would most certainly be after the 2015 model year.
Another option is for Buick to produce the Riviera concept from 2007. That car was a coupe based on the Epsilon front-wheel drive platform. With such mainstream underpinnings, the car would likely be very feasible to produce and is one scenario that could likely end up on the market before 2015.
It's also possible the name will just be used to tease Riv fans with another Riviera concept car, like in 2007. A concept or other one-time use could also explain why the trademark was filed now versus several years from now, when a production vehicle is more likely to launch.
Regardless of what GM is up to, it appears the Riviera name is at least important enough to Buick to continue to have the trademark there in case they decide to use it. GMI will continue to work this story to fine-tune the moniker's potential use on a future Buick.