GM's Buick brand reaches crossroads

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GM's Buick brand reaches crossroads http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070321/AUTO01/703210363/1148
DETROIT -- Crunch time has arrived for General Motors Corp.'s beleaguered
Buick brand.
Saddled with a stodgy image and faced with years of sliding market share, the automaker is working hard to pump some life into the 104-year-old brand born in Flint.
In the coming months, Buick will soup up its two sedans and launch a much-anticipated crossover sport utility vehicle.
Buick can't afford to let those efforts fizzle, general manager Steve Shannon said Tuesday, pegging this year as a defining time in the brand's revival effort.
"2007 is going to be the breakout year for Buick," Shannon told the Automotive Press Association luncheon. "The business is tough; we're fighting it out every day."
Buick is looking for something to revive itself in North America, where sales have fallen more than 40 percent since 2002.
While the brand has flourished in the hot Chinese market, where GM last year sold more of the vehicles than it did in North America, Buick has struggled in the United States. Just two years ago, GM product czar Bob Lutz described Buick as a "damaged brand" and said GM may have to phase it out if matters don't improve.
Plans for the coming months include reviving the Super car designation used on high-performance models of the 1950s, Shannon announced on Tuesday. Beefed-up models of the Lucerne and LaCrosse will get the moniker later this year.
The Enclave crossover SUV -- Buick's most promising vehicle launch in years -- will hit showrooms this summer with Tiger Woods starring in the ads.
And, next month, GM will unveil the 2008 LaCrosse at the New York Auto Show.
"We've been rebuilding Buick bit by bit," Shannon said.
Saving Buick is a tough proposition, and some question whether GM's strategy is focused and aggressive enough to work.
GM has taken a different approach with Buick than it did with Saturn, a brand bolstered by an all-out product assault in the past 18 months. GM has added five vehicles to the Saturn lineup, even shipping a compact car to the United States from Belgium to better compete in that market.
With Buick, GM is steadily thinning down the brand's model lineup, which will soon include only three vehicles -- the LaCrosse, Lucerne and the Enclave.
GM stopped production on the Rendezvous sport utility vehicle in December and plans to stop production by early summer of the Terraza minivan and Rainier midsize sport utility vehicle.
Buick last year sold about 96,000 Lucernes and 71,000 LaCrosses, both slightly up from '05.
The Buick dealer network also is being consolidated. GM is moving to combine Buick, Pontiac and GMC dealers into one outlet that would sell all three brands.
"Even though Buick needs as much or more attention as Saturn, it's not getting a full-fledged revival," said Karl Brauer, editor in chief of Edmunds.com, an online auto shopping site. "It's a tough battle and there is a lot of baggage there."
The Enclave is promising, Brauer said, but likely won't go far in changing Buick's image even if it does well.
Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at J.D. Power and Associates, came away from Tuesday's Buick presentation with the impression that GM has not crafted a focused strategy on Buick.
In the presentation, Shannon talked about attracting established, wealthy buyers, keeping Buick loyalists and also drawing a younger urban crowd.
"They need to define what success is for them," Libby said. "It seems like they're trying to accomplish many, many things."
-- "The king of Israel answered, "Tell him: 'One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off."
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Stunning...They still don't have a clue, do they.
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Ya know - that was my initial response too. As a long time Buick guy I was really disappointed in that article. Just go for the quality in the build and put the customer back in customer relations. The last thing GM needs to do is introduce a paradox into a product line. Buick should not be chasing after that market.
--

-Mike-
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That was my feeling as well, Mike.
When they replaced the LeSabre with the Lucerne, it caused me to shy away from Buick... I have had enough problems with the regular line, and dont want to be a guinea pig for them.
Customer relations is key, and quality of build helps reinforce that position.
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Jim Higgins wrote:

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070321/AUTO01/703210363/1148
What does GM need to survive? Total consolidation. One dealer network for main line cars. One for high end vehicles. One for trucks. rather than kill the names of the past like olds or buick, just make them a model of the "Unified" GM. You can buy a chevy, olds, buick pontiac under one roof, one franchise and one banner. and spread the love around. It will be a tough choice to make. But when they have to kill another brand, it will eventually come down to that.
Either that, or build ALL the cars in China and screw the UAW and continue on a shrinking market share. Totally disposable cars. Sort of like what has happened to the electronics industry. Don't think it could happen? Remember the big US electronics manufacturers? RCA, Zenith? Magnavox? (and many other fallen flags) Where are they today? A name slapped on a pacific rim product for the most part. in the mid 60's, if you told someone that was going to happen they would have told you your crazy. But all of the above are now NOT US companies selling products made in the pacific rim.
The schools better start teaching farming because soon because soon that's all this country will be able to produce.....
Bob
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Nope. The illegals got that covered.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Retired Shop Rat: 14,647 days in a GM plant. Now I can do what I enjoy: Large Format Photography
Web Site: www.destarr.com - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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wrote:

For me, Buick died when they left Flint. Buick City, where some of the highest quality Buicks built, is now an open field. Likewise the Buick engineering building and the headquarters building. The engine plant, where the 3800 is built, will soon be closed & leveled, leaving just a couple plants employing a few hundred, compared to the 24,000 that once worked there.
I don't see anything ever being built on the site. There was no enviromental cleanup, just a layer of crushed concrete covering the former plant floors.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Retired Shop Rat: 14,647 days in a GM plant. Now I can do what I enjoy: Large Format Photography
Web Site: www.destarr.com - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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Are you on drugs? My 3800 II supercharged has 240 horses, and still get's 28-29 MPG on the highway. Not to mention, 0-60 in 7.2 seconds. The family of 3800's are also one of the highest rated engines ever built.
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80 Knight wrote:

know get in the low 30MPG highway mileage. Better than average on power as well (in my view). Yes Chrysler/Dodge new 300M/Chargers will leave it the 3800 the dust, but you'll only get low 20MPG highway with those vehicles...a big difference.
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We have a 3800 series II, and it has never gotten more than 24-26 mpg on the highway.
It is not supercharged, is in a 98 LeSabre.. Aside from the damn plenum problem and the airconditioning computer, it has been pretty okay.
It can maintain 65-70 mph on the highway with relative ease, but is NO powerhouse.
Not the worst car we have ever owned.
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How tuned up is the engine? My Series II non-supercharged in my last Bonnie used to get 30MPG on the highway. My new supercharged one looses a point or two off of that.

I think you need a tune-up my friend. Even the non-supercharged engine I had used to move damned fast. It also had close to 300,000 on the odo.

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Oh, it scoots along but is no powerhouse. Maybe I underplayed the potential. It is no neck snapper
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No, the regular 3800 isn't any neck snapper, that I will agree with. The supercharged version though, is another story.
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<Snip>

Very true. I've never driven a new Charger, but I hear that Hemi is quite powerful.
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The newest car I have driven was an '04 Grand Prix rental. If memory serves, it had the Series III 3800. I guess I am kind of partial to my engines. Out of all the cars I have had, 4 have had some version of the 3.8, three have had some version of the 3.1, the other was a 3400, and the last was a 305, so I am pretty used to the 3.8/3.1 family.
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GM should build the goddamn cars like they did 30- 40 years ago, RWD. Offer a standard V6 and 2 to 3 optional V8's with a variety of horsepowers and torque ranges. Drop the gimmicky options as standard features.
Drop the options " Packages " that contain 8 things you don't want in order to get two thnigs you do want.
Offer a cloth interior on all model ranges as well as leather for those that got to have leather.
Build a car the American people will want to buy. Build it bigger with ample room so the public isn't forced to buy an SUV or Truck.
harryface 05 Park Avenue 54,234 91 Bonneville 309,123
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Very well said.. I hope someone in Buick is listening.
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2 or 3 V-8's? Even in the heyday of the muscle car I don't think anyone offered more than two v-8's to choose from, Most 6 cylinders are very adequate and any V-8 is more than adequate except for a few that should be buying a GTO rather than a Buick. I just see this as adding a lot of engineering cost as well as the $3000 they get to go from a 6 to an 8.

Somewhat agree. The packages are supposed to be cheaper but some don't make any sense with what is bundled.

Many do.

Won't make any difference. It is not size that forces people to the SUV. My sedans have more room than most of the SUV's on the market buy the people that want the SUV have no interest in a 4 door sedan. They want the rough ride, the taller height to awkwardly get in and out of and think they are safer. It is all in the head. Many a pickup has a bed that is pristine as nothing has ever been in it.
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That a Boy Harry !!! Tell them like it is !!! What you see is what you get !!! Bring back the Camero , Firebird, Tran-am, Delta 88, 98 the Wildcat, The Real Impala, Nova, Chevette. Cadillac Deville - NOT DTS or CTS Dammit Chevy Citation - no not that one. You all know what I mean ???
Tomorrows Future for America is working in Isle 19 at your local WalMart - DAMMIT !!!. I did not go to school all those years to work at a DAMn WALLMART !!! Brian - Las Vegas USA
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Tomorrows Future for America is workingin Isle 19 at your local WalMart

Respectfully, the people I see working in the local WalMart don't give me much encouragement for the future..They are the dropouts, the underachievers, for the most part.
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