Buick Confirms TDB Report: Will Halt Verano Production

Brand shifting focus to SUVs.

by on May.27, 2016

Heading off into the sunset, the Buick Verano.

General Motors  will end U.S. production and sales of the compact Buick sedan, confirming a report first posted by TheDetroitBureau.com this spring.

The move reflects the broad market shift from conventional passenger cars to sport- and crossover-utility vehicles. Buick utility-vehicle line-up is expected to account for as much as 70% of its sales over the next several years, according to senior brand planners.

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Sales of the Verano were down nearly 12% for the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2015. And last year’s total sales of 31,886 of the sedans was a 27% drop from 2014.

“The world is swinging away from sedans and coupes to crossovers of all sizes and shapes,” said Joe Phillippi, head analyst with consulting firm AutoTrends, Inc.

(Buick’s well-regarded design chief Ed Welburn stepping down. Click Here for the story.)

Sales of the Buick Encore continue to grow even as the SUV nears the end of its lifecycle.

Buick hasn’t given up entirely on the passenger car market. It recently launched its first convertible in decades, the Cascada, which is based on a platform shared with GM’s European-based Opel brand. But declining sales of conventional sedans and coupes has forced Buick to re-think its product strategy.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive response given to two recent concept models, the big Avenir sedan and this year’s Avista coupe, GM global product development chief Mark Reuss has told TheDetroitBureau.com they are unlikely to go into production. Declining passenger car sales have made it difficult to come up with a profitable business plan for the two show cars.

On the other hand, Buick is struggling to keep up with demand for its crossover line-up. Sales of the big Enclave have grown every year since the model was introduced, bucking the traditional downward trend as products age. Buick is getting ready to roll out updates of the Enclave and smaller Encore, the latter previewed at the New York Auto Show in March.

(Buick Avista, Avenir score big. But will they go into production? Click Here.)

With the addition of the Envision, SUVs could account for 70% of the brand's US sales.

Meanwhile, the near-luxury brand is getting set to add the all-new Envision to the line-up. That model has the distinction of being the first product sold by a major automaker to be imported from China – where it has already exceeded initial sales expectations by more than 100%.

Buick has big hopes for what will be a three-ute line-up. Even before Envision’s arrival, Enclave and Encore accounted for nearly two-thirds of the brand’s sales. “I believe utility vehicles will represent 70% or more of our sales in the U.S.” once all the updated models are available, marketing chief Duncan Aldred told TheDetroitBureau.com during an interview at the New York Auto Show.

Originally launched in 2011 as a 2012model, the Verano has been produced at GM’s Orion Assembly Plant in the northern suburbs of Detroit. The plant also produces the Chevrolt Sonic subcompact. Despite sluggish sales, Sonic will remain in production and is getting a mid-cycle makeover for the coming 2017 model-year.

As a result of declining sales, however, GM earlier this year ended second-shift production at the Orion plant. The automaker says there will be no additional job losses when Buick Verano goes out of production in October.

Buick isn't entirely abandoning passenger cars. It just added the Cascada convertible.

One reason is that the plant will add the new Chevrolet Bolt, a 200-mile, $35,000 battery-electric vehicle that is meant to compete with the upcoming Tesla Model 3.

The factory was also supposed to get a small SUV and concurrent $245 million investment, but that product, believed meant for the Cadillac brand, is instead going to a factory in Kansas. But Orion may also get a new Opel battery-electric vehicle, the e-Ampera, that would share the Bolt’s platform and driveline and be shipped to Europe.

(GM offering payouts to CUV owners over inaccurate mileage numbers. Click Here for the latest.)

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One Response to “Buick Confirms TDB Report: Will Halt Verano Production”

  1. Gene says:

    So, the Verano will join the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart in that big automotive graveyard in the sky. Kind of makes me want to give my Mercury an appreciative hug…

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