Buick dealers like lease effort
For several years, Buick dealers have said they needed more-competitive leases to keep pace with the much higher lease penetrations of other near-luxury brands such as Acura and Infiniti.
In 2012, General Motors responded with a 24-month lease program called Experience Buick that pushed lease penetration to its highest level in recent memory.
Keep it going, says Mike Bowsher, dealer principal of two Buick-GMC stores in Georgia and one in Florida. He is also co-chairman of the Buick-GMC National Dealer Council.
"We need to continue a strong lease program," Bowsher says. "I am going to fight on national dealer council every day to keep the leasing going."
Leases accounted for one-third of Buick's sales last year, up from 23 percent in 2011. As of late January, the brand's lease rate in 2013 was 37 percent, a Buick spokesman says.
GM launched Experience Buick in March. The 24-month lease includes free OnStar, SiriusXM and scheduled maintenance. Buick has no plans to end the promotion, the spokesman says.
Before GM introduced the program, Buick dealers had been at a disadvantage, primarily because GM's leasing business disappeared in 2009, the year it went through bankruptcy. GM still is rebuilding its leasing capacity and Buick dealers are training their sales and finance and insurance staffs, who have comparatively little experience leasing cars.
Experience Buick's 24-month lease was "the tip of the spear," says Bowsher.
"What it did was generate a bunch of 39-month leases," he says. "The 24-month offer sells them on the car, and then many decide to forego the free stuff" to go with a longer lease term with a lower payment.
In 2012, about 40 percent of Buick's leases were 24-month terms; the remainder were 36- or 39-month leases, the spokesman says. Buick didn't offer 24-month leases in 2011.
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