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It is an interesting angle, and Jerry's right about the demise of Plymouth and Olds.

http://www.forbes.com/columnists/2005/06/14/generalmotors-buick-discontinuation-cz_jf_0614flint.html?partner=yahootix&referrer=


Personally I've never understood the position of Buick, I guess it's a vestige of the old days when Alfred P. Sloan wanted to give eveyone the opportunity to climb the GM ladder from Chevy -> Pontiac -> Olds -> Buick -> Cadillac. Now with Saturn, Saab and Cadillac all trying to get different slices of the luxury-sporty pie, Buick's role seems more fuzzy than before. Unless GM wants Buick to try and milk the age 60+ demographics to buy their last or second-to-last car ?
 

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I think GM is making a big mistake. Not so much in maybe killing off Buick, but in this Pontiac/Buick/GMC strategy. GMC is not an issue, doesn't seem like a big deal that you can't get a Buick or Pontiac truck/minivan/SUV if there's a GMC right there.

No, it's this thing about only making 2 door Pontiacs and 4 door Buicks. There's a whole lot of 2 door Pontiacs out there, and do you really think they'll want to get a Buick? So you're going to lose Pontiac sales too.

This wasn't mentioned in the commentary. Maybe they're trying to kill off all 3.

Shoulda kept Olds. Maybe we can get a Saab 442. It can stand for 4 wheel drive, 4 cylinders, 2 turbos.

You listening GM? A hatchback too, you SOBs. :)
 

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Maybe GM will simply let Pontiac and Buick compete with each other and whoever survives wins, the other gets put out to the pastures of Michigan.

I say let GMC make/keep ALL of GM's pickups and SUVs. And for all other brands they can each only get crossovers at the most. Hummers are in a different niche category (like DC's Jeep brand) so that's fine for me.
 

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Being an Aussie, I have no emotional attachment to Buick at all. When I read that story this morning, I was willing to bet that Jerry Flint grew up with his dad driving a Buick.

The whole thing just smacked of some emotional attachment. Including the sideswipe at Saab.

Why would GM let Buick wind down whilst supporting Saab?

Global potential.

One brand has it, the other doesn't.

Buick? Stick a fork in it. It's done. And Jerry Flint should climb those stairs in his publicity photo and retire for a long, peaceful sleep, where he can dream about the glory days.
 

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i've been a long time reader of Flint's articles and think he makes some rather good points from time to time. His name carries some weight with it too since he's been covering the auto market for over 40 years and i definatly respect his opinions. his thing with buick does sound a bit emotional but he might be right; i however see chevy as the quintessential GM brand, followed by caddilac. buick, pontiac and the now late oldmobile all had an obvious GM attachment and all served their purpose, they all catered to a specific niche; just like Flint mentioned: the idea of climbing the ladder from chevy to caddy, all makes perfect sense - now however the market has shifted. today there is more of a demand for luxery cars, and when i say that i mean cars with power everything, heated leather, a/c, nav systems. these features are now availabe as options on many levels of GMs line, with no models have more than a name as a difference between them when comparing performance or features. sure there are some minor differences here and there, but my point is that GM needs to make its cars more unique internally (e.g. dont offer a chevy with heated leather seats and a premium sound system, let caddilac do that, and dont try to make a caddy sporty, leave that to pontiac), GM really needs to get back to its roots in order to be successful. i do not want to see GM go down and i think many americans share my sentiment.
 

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I don't recall reading Flint before, but he makes good points in this article. GM's interest in streamlining and clarifying their offerings among the divisions, while an obviously good move, is no doubt mired in legal concerns. There are too many people with lawyers who don't understand they're not entitled to a lifetime business relationship with GM or anybody else, and who ought to hire business advisors instead.

I didn't see the comment about Saab's comparative sales figures (in poor English, BTW) as a swipe so much as observation of fact. But the implication that it's more worthwhile to save Buick than Saab is surely baloney. Unless GM screws it up through homogenization, Saab offers market segment differentiation and access to global markets that Buick just can't touch. Although the Subaru/Chevy badge-engineering thing certainly damages Saab's brand in the short term (IMO), this bitter pill might end up saving the company. It's a little disingenuous of Flint to suggest that Saab's badge-engineering shows extraordinary effort to save the company, where this is somehow lacking for Buick: for better or worse GM has shared platforms across divisions nearly forever (and too much of this is how they ended up blanding the brands in the first place). I'm sure if GM strategists could come up with something for Buick as expedient and cheap as the 9-2 and 9-7 moves, they would. Unless, as Flint implies, they don't want to in the first place-- but the Saab solution has nothing to do with Buick.

GM products are selling relatively poorly IMO because they have been so market-driven, rather than market-leading, that there's always somebody else out there who is offering something a little more interesting, a little more innovative, a little cheaper, than most things the lumbering giant can come up with. Even trucks, which have traditionally depended on patriotic working class folks for a great part of their sales, and SUVs, are facing strong competition from more nimble overseas manufacturers.

Combine this with the uncompetitive union salaries and benefits (note I am not saying they're bad, just that they're a relatively expensive effect on bottom line) and you have a company that could really use a major re-org.

Here's a conspiracy theory for you: what if GM wants to slide in bankruptcy, as a pretext for reorganization and for getting the unions and the lawyers off their backs? Do they secretly feel they're too mired in their current way of doing things to solve their problems in any other way?
 
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