General Motors Co. will make all of its Buick models electric by 2030 in a move to remake the brand in the US.
The overhaul will start with an electric crossover SUV in 2024 that Buick said will offer some luxury amenities and a new styling theme while being priced beneath GM’s Cadillac EVs. It’s a play to draw new buyers into the brand with a value proposition because most plug-in models sell for well above the $45,000 average price of a new vehicle.
“It’s exactly what is not in the market, an affordable premium SUV,” said Rob Peterson, brand marketing manager for Buick. “You can have a gorgeous electric vehicle that isn’t expensive.”
Buick plans to use EVs sold under the new Electra sub brand to market its electric makeover and grow a brand that sells fewer than 200,000 vehicles a year in the US. Sales grew last year in Buick’s domestic market, but it has been a far bigger force in China and less relevant for GM at home.
Buick doesn’t plan to go all electric in China, where it sells more than 800,000 vehicles a year.
Going forward, Buick’s electric models will be called Electra followed by some kind of alphanumeric addition to the name, a GM spokesman said. The brand sells the electric Velite 6 and Velite 7 in China and will add five new EVs in the market by 2025.
GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra plans to make Cadillac all electric by 2030, as well, and the rest of the company’s vehicles will be battery-powered by 2035.
Along with electric drive, Buick will start a new design theme for the brand. GM is revealing the Buick Wildcat EV concept, which the company says is a design exercise. The concept car’s forward-leaning front end, new trapezoid-shaped grille and flowing side view are meant to create a more elegant look. Still, Peterson said Buick is an SUV brand, suggesting the vehicle isn’t destined for production.
Buick hopes EVs will help bring in a new kind of buyer, which has been a challenge. While the brand gets 73% of buyers from other car labels, about 22% come from GM brands. That means only about half of customers are non-GM owners, said Alexander Edwards, president of marketing research firm Strategic Vision in San Diego.
“Buick isn’t bringing in enough new blood,” Edwards said. “They’re relying on cannibalism of GM brands.”
–By David Welch (Bloomberg)