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Buick will play up mid-sized LaCrosse

Automotive News reports on Buick's plans for the mid-sized automobile segment.

Automotive News

DETROIT -- The future sweet spot for Buick's car line will be the mid-sized segment, the top executive for General Motors' Buick-Pontiac-GMC sales channel says.

The full-sized-car segment "has declined 35 percent this calendar year. Bringing more entries into a declining segment wouldn't necessarily be smart," said Susan Docherty, vice president of Buick-Pontiac-GMC.

Sales of the full-sized Lucerne totaled 50,799 in first 11 months of this year, a 34.1 percent drop from the year-ago period.

Buick's spotlight on the car side will be aimed at the redesigned, mid-sized 2010 LaCrosse, which debuts next month at the Detroit auto show. The new LaCrosse also will be sold in China by GM's Shanghai operations.

"The partnership that we have with Shanghai GM means that in our future Buick portfolio, a lot of the design and engineering work can be done over there," Docherty said. "Having a design and engineering center in China that we can tap into definitely helps reduce our North American costs."

Nothing new for Lucerne

Although there are no plans to drop the Lucerne, neither are there plans to redesign or replace it.

The Lucerne and Cadillac DTS share the same architecture -- the G platform for large, front-wheel-drive luxury cars -- and are approaching the end of their life cycle. Docherty said Buick has no plans to replace the Lucerne with the full-sized Buick Park Avenue sedan. The rear-drive Park Avenue is assembled by GM's Holden subsidiary in Australia and exported to China.

Buick will aim at buyers of mid-sized premium cars with the La-Crosse, Docherty said. "I would rather be spending our investment dollars there than going larger," she said.

The 2010 LaCrosse was developed on GM's new global mid-sized vehicle architecture. The LaCrosse will be the first North American nameplate on the new front-drive architecture, which accommodates four- and six-cylinder engines.

Buick will continue to fill its full-sized slot with the current Lucerne, Docherty said. That nameplate replaced the LeSabre in 2005.

Former hot property

The LeSabre once was a hot property for Buick, with sales reaching 150,744 in 1997.

The best year for the Lucerne was 2006, when 96,515 were sold.

But Docherty is not predicting the demise of large cars.

"I am just saying that it's going to be a lot less than it has been in the past," she said.

"You want to make sure as you look forward to GM's next 100 years that we are putting our efforts in market segments that are big and thriving, in ones that don't have a high decay rate."

(Source: Automotive News)