Saturday, February 6, 2010

2012 Buick Excelle Review and Prices

General Motors gives its weakest domestic brand a new compact sedan as another hoped-for sales booster. Excelle is a timely move, but can a gussied-up Chevrolet Cruze help Buick in such a rough-and-tumble market?

What We Know About the 2012 Buick Excelle

Buick will soon offer its first North American compact car since 1997. The move is part of a big shakeup that’s been going on at parent General Motors since the automaker emerged from its historic government-brokered bankruptcy in summer 2009.

That swift 40-day court trip cleared much of the company’s huge profit-killing debt load and netted a $50 billion taxpayer lifeline. It also forced slimming down to four “core” domestic brands. Now GM is under pressure to regain public confidence by delivering gotta-have vehicles that will sell well enough for the company to become profitable again and pay back taxpayers. That’s why a new government-vetted board of directors, chaired by former AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre, has been wielding a very big broom lately, cutting needless layers of management, firing old hands with old ideas, spending money to speed-up new-model rollouts, and working to streamline most every other part of the business. It’s a tough job, but everything depends on doing it right. As Joseph Phillipi, of the consulting firm Auto Trends, told the New York Times, GM must “establish themselves as the benchmark for comparison in each [market class] they’re in, as opposed to following everyone else.” Whitacre knows this too. As he recently declared to a group of GM employees, “Our mission is to design, build, and sell the world’s best vehicles”--a tall order, given recent history.

A top priority for “New GM” is rebuilding Buick, arguably its weakest domestic nameplate and a symbol of the old company’s decades-long slide to money-losing mediocrity. Buick sales have long suffered from the brand’s geezer image and products appealing mainly to an elderly clientele that continues to diminish. But Buick has also lately been starved for product, and is currently down to just three models. Though the LaCrosse midsize sedan and Lucerne large sedan have barely registered on consumers’ radar, the new-for-2008 Enclave premium-midsize SUV has been a brisk seller, at least by recent Buick standards. GM hopes to build on that momentum with the redesigned 2010 LaCrosse and a smaller but related new Regal midsize sedan, the first since 2004. The Regal is due to start sale in the second quarter of 2010 as an early 2011 model, initially with one trim level and a single powerteam. More versions are promised for model-year 2012.