Buick to offer 24-month lease deals
DETROIT -- General Motors' Buick brand, confronting the industry's longest streak without a monthly sales gain, will roll out a 24-month lease deal in a bid to boost lease penetration to the levels of other luxury brands.
Starting Thursday, Buick dealers will offer the "Experience Buick" lease program, which includes free scheduled maintenance, Sirius XM radio and OnStar for the full lease cycle. Typically, customers receive free satellite radio for three months and free OnStar for six months.
Buick executives believe that the short lease term offered through Ally Financial, coupled with the freebies, will entice luxury buyers who might not have otherwise considered the brand.
"It's really a call to action to consumers to come in and experience what Buick has to offer from the standpoint of great product and great customer treatment," Buick marketing chief Tony DiSalle said in an interview.
Buick sales soared after GM's bankruptcy, climbing 52 percent in 2010, and 14 percent to 177,663 units last year. But they have declined in each of the past five months, including a 17 percent drop this year through February, while the industry recovery gained steam.
Cadillac is the only other U.S. brand that has failed to post a monthly gain since September.
Buick is also counting on the recently launched Verano compact and forthcoming Encore compact crossover for sales growth in 2012.
DiSalle said leases represented 24 percent of Buick's sales last year. That's up from past years but still trails most luxury brands, some of which have lease penetration rates that exceed 50 percent.
Brian Sweeney, vice president of Buick-GMC sales and service, said the program also is aimed at improving customer retention by driving service business to dealers.
Mike Bowsher, owner of three Buick-GMC stores in the Southeast and co-chairman of the Buick-GMC National Dealer Council, said dealers are eager to beef up their lease business.
"All of our competitors have strong lease penetration," Bowsher said. "This will allow a luxury buyer to experience Buick for a short period of time with all of the GM wares that go with it."
The free maintenance includes oil changes and tire rotations.
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