Why Buick expects to sell more than 1.4 million vehicles this year – Detroit Free Press
Buick is aiming for its fifth consecutive year of record sales for the brand on the back of expected sales gains from the new SUVs and cars it is introducing in the U.S. and China.
The brand, which pitches itself as “attainable luxury,” is preparing to launch a new Enclave, Regal Sportback and Regal TourX in the U.S and its Buick Envision SUV, introduced last summer, is still a new option for many buyers.
Buick revealed the redesigned 2018 Enclave last week at the New York International Auto Show and revealed two variations of the Regal earlier this month. Industry analysts have praised the design and market strategy of both vehicles.
In China, Buick is also adding the Velite 5 — Buick’s first extended-range electric vehicle — to its lineup. The Velite 5 is a Buick-badged version of the Chevrolet Volt and is part of a plan to introduce a full range of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric vehicles in China over the next two years.
The Velite 5 is the second model that wears the Buick Blue badge — a designation for Buick’s hybrid vehicles — and joins the LaCrosse hybrid electric vehicle launched last April.
“Obviously, with this plethora of new vehicles we’ve got expectations and ambitions to grow in the U.S. and North America. In China, the industry will continue to grow and we expect Buick to grow with it,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick and GMC for General Motors. “We will be looking for another record this year.”
Buick sold more than 1.44 million vehicles worldwide in 2016 — its third consecutive year of record sales for the brand. China now accounts for more than 82% of Buick’s global total sales — or five times as much as its sells in the U.S.
In the U.S., Buick is the fourth-most popular premium or luxury brand behind market leader Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and BMW.
Last year, Buick sold 229,631 vehicles in the U.S. or about 83,000 less than BMW. But Aldred says he believes Buick will continue to close the distance.
“There is a big gap, to be fair,” Aldred said. “But I don’t think its inconceivable that we could break into that top three.”
Buick’s biggest introduction this year will be the redesigned Enclave that goes on sale this fall.The Enclave, first introduced about nine years ago, is Buick’s second-most popular model in the U.S.
The redesigned model is bigger than the outgoing model but looks smaller, thanks to a new design that is more aerodynamic and has a lower roof line.
“The redesign sheds the doughy, overstuffed look for sleek lines and promises nimbler, less boat-like handling,” Fred Meier, bureau chief for Cars.com, said of the redesigned Enclave.
Buick also is debuting a new, more luxurious and expensive trim level on the Enclave called Avenir. The Avenir trim level will eventually be introduced on all of Buick’s nameplates, giving the brand a way to boost profits and please consumers who frequently buy the higher-priced versions of Buick’s vehicles.
With the Regal, Buick basically took a car and turned it into two distinct models, giving Buick two offerings at a time when car sales are falling. The Regal Sportback is designed as a traditional sedan while the Regal TourX looks like a wagon but is being marketed as an SUV.
The TourX will compete with more expensive wagons sold in the U.S. such as the Audi A4 Allroad and Volvo V90 Cross Country, as well as the Subaru Outback.
“The move has strong potential to help Buick end some erosion of sales in the midsize car market, a decline most brands in the segment are feeling as consumers continue to choose utility vehicles over sedans,” Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst for IHS Markit, said in a report earlier this month.
Brinley estimates that annual sales of the Regal Sportback and TourX could top 25,000, compared with the more than 19,000 Regals sold in 2016.
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