Should GM save Buick?

Should GM save Buick?
The consensus is that a "new" GM if it emerges may well be only Chevrolet and Cadillac. There's some logic to that - like the Japanese makers, it would focus on a mass-market product (Chevrolet) and one luxury brand (Cadillac).

Still, GM's new CEO pledges that four "core" brands will remain: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.

GMC's a real head-scratcher, as their entire lineup is simply a clone of Chevy, though I suspect they want to retain that brand because it's actually a decent seller for them.

Buick's a much tougher call, however, and I wonder whether they should retain Buick as a small, niche brand, perhaps sold at Chevy dealers.

The reasons:

(1) Buick actually retains some brand value. It was the original GM brand, it had a very loyal customer base and the name hasn't been sullied like so many other nameplates.

(2) Buick is a *HUGE* seller in the overseas market. It's the best-selling car in China and does reasonably well in much of the rest of the world.

(3) Buick, as I see it, does theoretically have a viable niche in the U.S. market. Though few automakers these days have more than one luxury brand, it seems to me there really is kind of a segmentation in the luxury car market. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus, and, to a lesser extent, Audi and Jaguar, are at the premium end. Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln, and some high-end VWs occupy a second-tier. Though theoretically those "second-tier" brands compete with the first tier, they seem to attract a different customer base - people who want a luxury car but either can't or don't want to pay for a Benz, BMW or Lexus or want something a little more modest.

GM's ambition is for Cadillac to once again be mentioned in the same breath as Mercedes, BMW and Lexus. If they succeed in that, then a lean Buick could theoretically compete in that second tier level against Acuras, Infinitis, and Lincolns.

Moreover, Buick actually has some very good models. The Lucerne is decent, their SUV, the Buick Enclave is good, and the new 2010 Buick LaCrosse is a radical redesign based on the Opel Insignia, which has gotten excellent advance reviews.

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