Buick, GMC, riding truck wave, aim for more share gain

Some dealers anxious over shift to GM Financial for subsidized leases

Aldred: “Our secret is going to be keep the plates spinning on the sedans and really growing” Buick's two crossovers. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

SAN FRANCISCO -- Buick and GMC are out to gain U.S. market share again this year by riding momentum in truck and crossover sales, dealers were told at the channel's make meeting.

Buick-GMC U.S. vice president Duncan Aldred said after the meeting that he expects continued strong demand for the Encore and Enclave crossovers to lift Buick sales in 2015, even as sedan sales cool.

"Our secret is going to be keep the plates spinning on the sedans and really growing" the two crossovers, Aldred said.

Deliveries at both brands grew 11 percent last year vs. 6 percent for the industry.

Aldred said that GM has invested to create more capacity at its Arlington, Texas, assembly plant to boost production of the Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs, which were in tight supply in 2014 following the early-year rollout of the redesigned models.

David Ferraez, CEO of Green Brook Buick-GMC in Green Brook, N.J., said the Buick-GMC make meeting, which was combined with Chevrolet, "wasn’t nearly as negative" as some past gatherings.

"You can tell there's a lot of optimism in the GM camp, especially at Buick-GMC," he said.

Aldred said GMC hopes to match the success of Buick's ongoing advertising campaign with a new brand pitch that will begin in mid-February. It eventually will include a commercial exclusively featuring the Denali high-end sub-brand, which has been a big success despite scant advertising.

Ferraez said a few dealers expressed concern about the ability of GM Financial, GM's captive arm, to handle demand when it becomes Buick-GMC's exclusive provider of subsidized leases on Feb. 3.

"They've put those concerns at ease for now, but the proof will be in the pudding next month," he said.

Aldred acknowledged that some dealers are apprehensive about the move but said he asked to be the first GM division to switch because he thinks it will lead to better customer retention.

"I think everyone gets that a captive finance co., where you own the customer, is critical," he said.

You can reach Mike Colias at autonews@crain.com

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