What is GM thinking?

 

I have seen many decisions and strategies over the years by car makers that left me thinking “are you drunk?” However, GM’s most recent new car made me think that same thing once again. I have actually been fairly impressed with GM over the last two years or so because they seemed to be headed in the right direction. Their cars have begun to make real strides in quality and some worthy of serious consideration for car buyers. However, their streak of making good decisions has come to a grinding halt.

The new 2011 Buick Regal has been recently launched and although it actually seems like a pretty good car, there is one major problem with it. It is essentially the same price and has very similar looks and features to the already successful Buick Allure/LaCrosse (Allure in Canada, LaCrosse in the U.S.). The Allure has actually been chosen as the best car in terms of quality by J.D. Power and Associates, which is very meaningful in the auto industry. It is also leading Buick back to where it once was as one of the best car brands in the world.

So why did GM decide to launch another car that is virtually the same as a current model and not even offer it in another brand they own like Chevrolet? No really, this isn’t a rhetorical question; I actually do want to know the answer to this. GM is known for creating their own competition, like the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain for example. However, these competitors are at least not part of the same brand and look different (at least to the untrained eye). These two Buicks are almost the same size, price and appearance which is mind boggling. The Allure/LaCrosse can be equipped in a way that will make it a few thousand dollars more than the Regal, but there is way too much overlap between these two cars.

This obviously bad business decision is rather unfortunate because it threatens to destroy an otherwise successful vehicle in the Allure/LaCrosse which is crucial for the re-emergence of the Buick brand. This blunder has the potential to seriously harm the brand for the future. For 2010, Buick completely redesigned the Allure/LaCrosse and made it more high-end and expensive in the process. That alone is not a bad decision. Then they introduced the all new Buick Regal, which also looks like a good car. I expected them to price the Regal at the $26,000 CAD starting price which is where the Allure/LaCrosse used to start at. Doing this would increase the customer base which would have happened since Buick is starting to make attractive vehicles.

However, GM had to resort to their old ways of screwing it up and making bad decisions. Hopefully they will see the error of their ways and change the pricing of the Regal to the bottom a little. It will be very interesting to see how this new model does once it is fully released and available for purchase. The person in charge of the Buick brand should be fired for this one either way.