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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Buick: The American Lexus (or Not)

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By Justin Berkowitz

July 8, 2007

General Motors is a trash talker. The automaker brags about future show-stoppers, unveils concept vehicles with a sly wink (knowing full well they're stuck in development Hell) and offers press hacks "preview" drives of half-baked green machines. No GM brand has been more abused by these dishonest "you just wait" promises than Buick. The 2004 Velite was a glimpse of an alternate universe, where Buick made perfect sense. And as far back as 2003, board-certified spin specialist Bob Lutz was busy proclaiming that Buick will be "an American Lexus." As if.

That said, last year, with minimal fanfare, General Motors introduced a brand new model: the Buick Park Avenue. The badge-engineered Aussie (nee Holden Statesman) is a full-sized rear wheel-drive sedan boasting the kind of understated elegance– both inside and out– capable of resurrecting the ailing marque's appeal. In China.

America didn't get it. (Literally.) Buick's U.S. aficionados couldn't understand why America's favorite military dictatorship received the brand's potential savior, while the States got a milquetoast sedan whose name means masturbation in Quebecois. Slapping the "Super" moniker on Buick's front wheel-drive sedans did nothing- as in zilch- to appease the faithful. Buick's beat-up bolsterers lit-up their corner of the Internet, venting their electronic ire at the missed opportunity.

Understandably, John McElroy over at Autoline Detroit wanted to quiz Bob Lutz about Buick building better cars in The People's Republic. In May, GM's Car Czar agreed to tackle the issue– provided Autoline didn't air the relevant segment on TV. The news op could, however, put video of Maximum Bob's reply on their website.

Hang on. Never mind the fact that "one of the deans of the Detroit automotive press corp" [sic] agreed to censor himself at GM's behest. Consider GM's logic. The automaker attempted to minimize the spread of Lutz's response to an internet-disseminated controversy by restricting it to the internet.

Anyway, Lutz blamed that the Statesman misstep on Buick's beleaguered dealers. Back around the time Lutz had been playing the dozens with Lexus, his minions had previewed Lucerne and Holden Statesman prototypes to American Buick [Pontiac, GMC] dealers. According to Maximum Bob, the car floggers said they didn't need two models. They picked the Lucerne to grace their showrooms.

It's hard to understand why General Motors left the fate of the entire Buick brand in the hands of its dealers. Buick dealers don't really have customers. How does a car dealer grasp the desires of potential buyers that have never darkened their doorways?

Answer: you don't. Buick's sharp-end sharpies opted for what was clearly the worse of the two cars: a front-wheel drive H-body sedan riding on a platform dating back to the year Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone's secret vault (1986). Twenty-one years later, and these not-entirely-prescient Buick dealerships are selling, on average, six cars a month. Not six Lucernes. Six Buicks.

Normally, GM in general and Bob Lutz in particular sweep these sorts of decisions under the red-ink stained rug (GTO?) and tout The Next Big Thing. For reasons known only to Maximum Bob and his handlers (i.e. his ego and super ego), Lutz felt compelled to address the question again, via a video on GM's Fastlane Blog. So, Bob's people asked Bob, why is China selling a better looking Buick luxury car than the U.S.?

"I don't think they are," Maximum Bob insisted, confusing prevarication with fact. "They simply are the first market to get the new Buick Park Avenue, which they will actually assemble in China. And that vehicle, or a variant of it, is always a possibility for Buick [uSA] in the future."

Translation: "The critics are wrong! And even if they are right, we were also right, just a bit… premature. Cautious. Sensible. You'll see! Maybe." Bob's answer may not set new standards for this master of ill-informed, shoot-from-the-hip and sort it all out later (or just forget it) analysis, but it's not for lack of trying. Meanwhile, the Buick brand is spinning off into oblivion.

Or not. No discussion of Buick's Lexian aspirations would be complete without mentioning the new Enclave. The brand's sales may be down 30.4 percent from last June, but their crossover is gaining traction. May's aforementioned six cars per dealer per month average represents a two car per dealer improvement on their previous stat. As GM ramps-up Enclave production, Buick dealers may soon stagger into double digits.

But the broader question remains: is the vehicle pitched against the RX350 Bob Lutz' "American Lexus?"

Perhaps. But there is an important corporate disparity that overshadows any model vs. model comparison. Toyota doesn't compete with itself. GM does (Buick Enclave vs. GMC Acadia vs. Saturn Outlook vs. Chevrolet playertobenamedlater). As Buick's Chinese debacle proves, whenever you compete with yourself, you lose.

source:

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=4076

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while the States got a milquetoast sedan whose name means masturbation in Quebecois.
Or.... a Sport.... just about everywhere other than Quebec.
Slapping the "Super" moniker on Buick's front wheel-drive sedans did nothing- as in zilch- to appease the faithful. Buick's beat-up bolsterers lit-up their corner of the Internet, venting their electronic ire at the missed opportunity.

Can't even wait till they're released to start beating up on them, eh?

Anyway, Lutz blamed that the Statesman misstep on Buick's beleaguered dealers. Back around the time Lutz had been playing the dozens with Lexus, his minions had previewed Lucerne and Holden Statesman prototypes to American Buick [Pontiac, GMC]dealers. According to Maximum Bob, the car floggers said they didn't need two models. They picked the Lucerne to grace their showrooms.

Lucerne was out nearly two years before we saw the new Chinese Park Ave. Did you want Buick to continue with the LeSabre, or just have nothing at all to sell.

Answer: you don't. Buick's sharp-end sharpies opted for what was clearly the worse of the two cars: a front-wheel drive H-body sedan riding on a platform dating back to the year Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone's secret vault (1986)

Lucerne is on the G-body that dates to 1994. You know... the stiffest FWD body ever made.

Twenty-one years later, and these not-entirely-prescient Buick dealerships are selling, on average, six cars a month. Not six Lucernes. Six Buicks.

One word. Enclave.

Toyota doesn't compete with itself. GM does (Buick Enclave vs. GMC Acadia vs. Saturn Outlook vs. Chevrolet playertobenamedlater).

:bs: :bs: :bs: :bs: :bs: :bs: :bs: :bs:

Rx v. Highlander

ES v. Camry v. Avalon

Land Cruiser v. LX

Yaris and Corolla v. all of Scion

Edited by Oldsmoboi
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More bullsh*t from "The Truth About Cars" (Yeah right)

I don't think anyone actually takes this seriously from this NOTORIOUSLY anti-GM site.

It's sad that journalism has slipped to the point where trash like this is accepted as honest information.

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Lucerne is on the G-body that dates to 1994. You know... the stiffest FWD body ever made.

is wikipedia wrong here

says it's H body... or does it go by G body too?

the G body was rwd regals and such isn't it?

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is wikipedia wrong here

says it's H body... or does it go by G body too?

the G body was rwd regals and such isn't it?

Wiki is wrong.

H-body was the 85 - 91 Lesabre... then morfed into the 92-99 Lesabres.

G-body started with the Aurora and Riviera in early 1993. 2000 brought the G-body to the Bonneville, LeSabre, Park Ave, Seville, and lengthened into the K platform for the Deville/DTS.

The only two G-bodies left are the Lucerne and DTS. H-body died in 1999.

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ES v. Camry v. Avalon

See below. The ES is the best-selling car in Lexus' lineup. The current generation is differentiated enough that buyers feel it's worth the premium they pay over a Camry. The ES is to Camry as Lacrosse is to Impala. The Lexus' interior and driving experience (bear with me, here) are what sells it. I'd venture to say that the interior of the Lacrosse could be found in a Chevy, therefore the relationship between it and its lesser siblings isn't as effective.

Land Cruiser v. LX

If I'm not mistaken, the LX actually sells more than the Land Cruiser. Sure, it makes zero sense, but Toyota isn't going to kill a model that yields such high profit margins if people are willing to buy it.

Yaris and Corolla v. all of Scion

I'd chalk this up to Toyota's marketing of Scion. That said, I think Scion will have a much more difficult time marketing new models like the xB. Aside from being larger and heavier than the previous xB, the new model has lost the character that attracted buyers in the past. I'm not sure Toyota's marketing team will be able to convince consumers that the new xB is as edgy and hip as they have with previous models.

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They don't even know their platforms. Lucerne rides the G-body, though the VIN code indicates H-body. The truth is, the 1995 G-body that underpinned the Riviera and first-generation Aurora was revised and shortened for the Bonneville and LeSabre and that shortened platform was dubbed 'H-body' because of the wheelbase difference. However, collectively, they are all accurately described as G-bodies. The K-body that preceeded and runs parallel to the G-body is an even longer wheelbase and underpins the 2000-Deville/DTS.

The fact that the 'new' Hs are simply revised Gs as opposed to heavily updated 'old' Hs is a subtle but important fact lost on the ill-educated folks that write at TTAC. It overshadows the fact that the current Lucerne rides on one of - if the the most - resilient and refined unibody platforms today. Some argue that certain smaller cars are 'better' front-wheel drivers than the Gs, but again, this ignores the fact the structural integrity reached with the G-body was far more difficult to attain due to its large wheelbase, OAL, and height meaning that when the G-body 'matched' the frequency strength and stiffness of smaller cars, it actually exceeded it.

They also ignore the fact that Lucerne retail sales exceed Avalon retail sales and, in fact, the retail sales of every other fullsize car on the market.

Avalon certainly competes with both the Camry and Lexus. Many third-party sources have used the argument, "Why buy the ES when the Avalon is cheaper?"

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