General Motors announced on Friday that as a cost-cutting measure, it would delay the unveiling of a new Buick LaCrosse model that it had planned to show at the Los Angeles auto show next month. This is In addition to a similar halting of plans to display the coupe version of its Cadillac CTS. Speculation as to whether GM will eliminate or sell the Buick brand altogether to cut costs has dogged the company since at least last spring. That decision, at least for the moment, seems to be off the table.
The 100+ year old Buick has been slowly slipping into irrelevance for quite some time. Buick began trimming down its lineup in 2005 by replacing the Century and Regal with the LaCrosse, and the LeSabre and Park Avenue with the Lucerne in 2006. Both of its SUVs, the Rendezvous and Rainier were discontinued in 2007 to make way for the new 2008 Enclave, while Terraza minivan was subsequently dropped. After GM eliminated the Oldsmobile division in 2004, Buick breathed a sigh of relief as its position in the GM family seemed secure. However, consolidation of its models into the current three vehicle lineup has stripped away the flexibility of dealerships to cater to a decidedly older generation of drivers. The typical Buick buyer is generally looking for a slightly higher level of luxury than that of Chevrolet while retaining a degree of affordability that is not a part of the Cadillac line.
Despite all of these crippling moves to the Buick brand, the upcoming release of a youthful-leaning LaCrosse as well as a rumored convertible to arrive possibly in 2010 are meant to attract a new generation of Buick drivers. This is potentially another problem for GM, as it may cut into the inroads Cadillac has made in revamping their lineup and image among consumers. To counter that issue, Cadillac is hoping to push even further into the luxury market and not only be a contender to any of the luxury European brands, but a forerunner in the segment.