Dealers: Verano sells briskly, but ...
Retailers fear the new compact will cannibalize Regal
Some Buick dealers worry that the recently launched Verano compact sedan will cannibalize sales of the Regal, a mid-sized car that has helped fuel Buick's comeback since its 2010 launch.
"You've got two cars sitting real close," says Mike Bowsher, dealer principal of two Buick-GMC stores in Georgia and one in Florida and co-chairman of the Buick-GMC National Dealer Council. "It's definitely a concern."
General Motors launched the Verano in November. It's Buick's smallest car, slotted below the Regal and the LaCrosse, a larger sedan.
The Verano starts at $23,470, including destination charges; the base Regal has a sticker price of $27,530, including shipping. They have the same 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. The Regal offers a 2.0-liter turbo engine, which the Verano also is expected to get later this year.
To better distinguish the two smaller sedans, Bowsher says, dealers are touting the Regal as Buick's performance offering while positioning the Verano as a "baby LaCrosse" for buyers who want style and refinement in a small package.
GM is pushing the Regal's performance image with the introduction last autumn of the Regal GS. It has sportier styling and an Ecotec 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 270 hp.
GM sold 40,144 Regals in 2011, its first full year of production. It was Buick's No. 2 car in volume: GM sold 58,474 LaCrosses.
Mike Bowsher: Two cars, too close
Bowsher says early Verano sales have been brisk. Two of his earliest arrivals were sold to women in their 20s, an encouraging sign as Buick looks to woo younger buyers.
Brian Sweeney, vice president of sales and service for Buick-GMC, says the Regal is the "athlete of the family," while the Verano is "that value LaCrosse for people with young families, or for empty nesters."
Now that Buick dealers have a three-sedan showroom, Sweeney says, "That's the big challenge of this year, to hit on all cylinders with each of them."
You can reach Mike Colias at firstname.lastname@example.org.