Buick Launching All-New Avenir Sub-Brand

Patterned on company’s “Denali” label, it arrives in 2018.

by on Sep.30, 2016

Coming in 2018, Buick hopes Avenir will bring the same returns that Denali does for GMC.

Buick, an automaker long associated with smooth, “boulevard” driving is about to launch a new sub-brand dubbed “Avenir.”

The name means “future,” in French, and is meant to cover the most exclusive of Buick’s future models. Avenir first appeared on a wildly popular Buick concept vehicle that made its debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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“Through the first half of 2016, Buick has been the industry’s fastest-growing major international brand, and Avenir is key to future growth and delivering on the high expectations of new customers coming to our showrooms,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of global Buick sales, service and marketing. “Avenir will be Buick’s signature.”

The Avenir badge will be used much like sibling General Motors brand GMC now dubs its most exclusive models “Denali.” Avenir will first debut in the 2018 model-year and there will be three models rolled out over 18 months.

(GM China sales continue growth spurt. Click Here for the story.)

GM design chief Ed Welburn unveiled the Buick Avenir at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Eventually, it’s speculated that it will include a production model inspired by the Avenir concept car. The boat-tailed sedan introduced new interpretations of traditional Buick cues – including a modern take on the portholes that were once the brand’s signature.

Other details included an especially long hood, the wheels-at-the-corners stance and a sloping, rear deck that paid homage to historical models, such as the Riviera, to enhance Avenir’s proportions.

The Avenir concept shared the same underlying platform as the recently launched Cadillac CT6 flagship sedan. It is not yet clear how close this Buick flagship will look like the auto show prototype, but Reuss and other GM officials have repeatedly said they were looking for ways to make the business case that could turn Avenir from show car to production vehicle. Those efforts are still ongoing.

The idea of Buick introducing a sub-brand might make sense now, considering the brand’s growth in the U.S. market, but it would have more likely seemed like folly less than a decade ago. Leading into GM’s run through bankruptcy, Buick was a failing brand and many expected it to be one of the marques that the maker abandoned in order to qualify for a federal bailout. Instead, GM killed off Saab, Saturn, Pontiac and Hummer.

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

One reason why Buick was saved was the fact that it remained one of the most popular brands in the booming Chinese market, GM Executive Vice President Ed Welburn told TheDetroitBureau.com. The recently retired styling chief personally oversaw development of the Avenir and the more recent but equally well-received Buick Avista concept.

Even if Avista doesn't make it to production, it's likely to influence the brand's future designs.

It is uncertain if that show car will also find its way to an assembly line as demand for coupes has dried up in much of the world. Instead, Buick has put a growing emphasis on crossover-utility vehicles. That includes the new Rendezvous, the first mainstream vehicle on the U.S. market imported from China.

The brand recently announced it is dropping its smallest passenger car model, the Verano, despite positive reviews.

Buick sales have begun to rebound – although they have dipped in the U.S. a bit in recent months, they are scoring records in China. The brand also is bringing into showrooms a new group of sought-after buyers, women and young Millennials among them, who largely ignored Buick until recently. About half of its buyers now trade in other brands.

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

A challenge for Buick – and for parent GM – will be to find an open niche in the upscale market that allows the brand and the new Avenir to find buyers without impinging on the more up-market Cadillac. Analysts warn that if GM doesn’t clearly differentiate the two marques they could wind up competing with each other, rather than other luxury brands.

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