Technically, Buick is already on a death march as General Motors plans on taking the division all-electric in North America, and those EVs will bear the "Electra" badge, not Buick. There are other reasons to believe the 124-year-old American automaker is doomed, and it's related to its plans to ditch internal combustion engine cars entirely and electrify its lineup. There doesn't seem to be any strategy to transform Buick into an all-electric fleet in North America. It doesn't have any EV models ready for production, nor does it have a factory to produce the electric vehicles. GM wants Buick/Electra to be 100-percent EV by 2030 and claims the first all-electric vehicles will be available in 2024, but that looks like a statistical impossibility. With Buick sales in the dumps and no solid plan for EVs, it just might be as good as dead.
Trouble In Buick's Future
Autoweek reported that Buick sales plummeted 47.2-percent in 2022 from the previous year, which is a serious bottoming out. By comparison, Buick's sister brands Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac had modest drops in sales, ranging from 0.3- to 3.9-percent. It's worse for Buick, because it doesn't sell a lot of vehicles to begin with. Through 2,000 dealerships in the United States, Buick only moved 86,000 vehicles last year. For some context, BMW sold 254,000 cars through just 350 US dealerships. On the subject of dealerships, Reuters reports that GM is offering to buy out Buick dealers who don't want to make significant investments to upgrade their facilities to service the EVs that don't appear to coming any time soon. It would require each Buick franchisee to spend $200,000 to $500,0000 to upgrade their dealerships to be EV compliant.
GM made a similar offer to Cadillac franchise holders a few years ago and ended up losing over 40-percent of the dealers.
If by some miracle Buick is able to build a factory and design electric vehicles to sell in North America in the next few years, they still have the problem of maintaining their current gas-powered line-up. They can't just stop being a company and then expect to reemerge years down the road with any kind of loyal customer base. As it stands now, Buick only makes 3 models, the Encore GX, the Envision, and the Encore, with two of them being made in Asia. Buick only makes the Encore in America and sluggish sales put that vehicle's future in doubt.
Buick's Fuzzy Vision For An EV Future
On its website, Buick proudly proclaims, "In North America, Buick’s first electric vehicle is expected to be available in 2024, with plans for an all-electric lineup in the U.S. and Canada by the end of the decade." There are absolutely no details on how they plan to achieve this feat, because as was already mentioned, the automaker does not have a factory in North America, nor anything to build in it. Accompanying this wishful thinking statement from Buick is a picture of an EV, marked with the words, "Simulated concept vehicle not for sale."
Buick unveiled a "not for sale" concept vehicle in 2022, and it's a 2+2 coupe called The Wildcat. It's actually a really slick-looking ride, but Buick has absolutely no plans to ever turn it into a production car. The intent of the coolest Buick ever conceived is to show what kind of styling the company is capable of in the world of EVs. Sharon Gauci, executive director of global Buick-GMC design, told Car and Driver, "This was a tremendous opportunity to come up with what a new design language and aesthetic for [what] Buick will feel like,"
Buick does have a real EV that they could put into production in the Electra E5, possibly based on the 2018 Enspire concept. It's an all-electric EV, similar to the Cadillac Lyriq, utilizing the same General Motors Ultium battery platform. A Car and Driver review of the vehicle had to make a series of guesses about the performance and features because Buick is a little tight-lipped on this one. It will be made in and sold in China, with no immediate plans to bring it to the U.S. That's probably for the best because a Chinese-built EV wouldn't qualify for the $7,500 IRS tax credit, and it's unlikely anyone would buy one.
Buick Is Late To The EV Party
Virtually every car manufacturer already has an electric vehicle for sale, with much more on the way. While the market might not be flooded just yet, things are filling up and Buick doesn't have anything to bring to the party in the foreseeable future. If it plans on being an all-electric car company in North America, it absolutely must have a U.S. factory to build those EVs. Exotic foreign automakers can sell high-end supercar EVs in America because they have a small but dedicated base. To move mid-priced EVs in America, they have to be made in America.
Chrysler and Dodge appear to be doomed because the parent company, Stellantis, doesn't have a clear vision for the future of the brands. The same thing seems to be going on with Buick. GM has grand hopes for Buick, it's just not sure how to make it happen. A solid plan starts out with an objective, followed by detailed steps needed to achieve it. GM wants to take Buick all-electric by the end of the decade, the only things missing are factories and EVs, so it may believe good intentions and crossed fingers are going to deliver. A more logical scenario is that Buick fades away like Pontiac and Oldsmobile.