Buick is expected to introduce a four-seat convertible concept at the New York auto show, offering another glimpse at General Motors' plans to revive the stodgy brand by moving it upscale.
Struggling with aging products and gray-haired customers, Buick is next in line at GM for new products and new styling.
Approved or nearing approval are a:
The convertible also is under consideration. The concept is expected to feature a retractable hardtop roof.
GM said at the Chicago Auto Show that it will spend $3 billion over a five-year period on a new range of vehicles for Buick.
The first - the mid-sized front-drive 2005 LaCrosse sedan - debuted in Chicago and goes on sale this fall.
"New York will give you an indication of what we're thinking about as we go forward" beyond the LaCrosse, said CJ Fraleigh, the new general manager of Buick, Pontiac and GMC.
For Buick dealers, the new product portfolio can't come fast enough. Vehicle sales nosedived 22.0 percent in 2003, from 432,017 in 2002 to 336,788.
GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said he wants to make Buick a true premium player. He said new Buicks will be quiet and will have top-notch fit and finish. A rich-looking interior will be Buick's signature.
If approved, the flagship sedan is expected to be based on a global rwd vehicle architecture under development by GM's Holden subsidiary in Australia. "When you say flagship, maybe there is a different definition of a flagship, that it doesn't have to be a full-sized car," said Buick spokesman Pete Ternes.
The LaCrosse will be the lowest-priced car in the Buick portfolio. The Regal will be dropped this spring, followed by the Century in October.
Several months ago, GM was considering development of car based on the fwd Epsilon architecture that would have been positioned below the LaCrosse. Ternes said that platform no longer is being considered for Buick.
The 2004 Chevrolet Malibu is among the vehicles sharing the Epsilon platform.