Could this be the Hail Mary pass Buick needs to stay alive?
It’s been a while since General Motors’ rebadging jobs stopped being as blatant as they were during the Cadillac Cimarron era, but that doesn’t mean GM still wasn’t double-dipping by taking cars from one of its subsidiaries to sell under the name of another. In essence, that’s what GM was doing with Buick and its European offshoot, Opel. But now that Opel has been sold to Peugeot Citroen (PSA), GM has to carve out a new identity for Buick, which is exactly what it’s been busy doing. A report by Car Design News claims that Buick has been hard at work using its newfound freedom to work on a new design language that will define its brand for generations to come.
Its crucial that Buick does things right, especially if it wants to recover from the three years of sales declines its experienced until this point. "This is a really important time for Buick,” says Executive Design Director Helen Emsley. "For a while we’ve been trying to reinvent Buick and find out what it is.” A reinvention is tricky territory for Buick. While sales in America have been anything but stellar, the brand has a lot of iconic designs throughout its American history that it can pull from for inspiration. At the same time, Buick would be signing its death warrant if it polarized buyers in China, who make up 80% of the brand’s sales worldwide, with a brand geared toward the American market. "This is a perfect time for us to sit back and say, ok, what is the right thing to do for Buick? Let’s make sure we do it correctly,” said Emsley.
Buick’s efforts should pay off sometime in the near future with the release of two models, a concept that will debut the brand’s new design language codenamed "The Orange Car,” and a crossover with a four-door coupe body that’s styled using design elements from the Orange Car. Buick’s global director of exterior design Bob Boniface told CDN that any model it builds using the Orange Car’s styling will be an addition to the brand’s current portfolio and won’t replace anything just yet. If the Orange Car and Buick's ensuing crossover look anywhere near as striking as the Avista and Enspire concepts, then we see bright things ahead for the troubled automaker. Rebuilding the brand to the point it was at in its heyday will be tough, but as Emsley puts it, "Give us a chance, come and have a look. Some amazing work is coming out of this studio, so keep following us and watch where we’re going.”