NEW YORK - General Motors is making progress in its effort to eliminate exclusive Buick dealerships and build up a combined Buick-Pontiac-GMC sales channel.
At the end of 2005, 60 percent of Buick's sales were "on channel," said Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president for sales, service and marketing. By that he meant Buick sales at stores that had consolidated Pontiac, Buick and GMC franchises under one roof.
"We think it will be 70 percent by the end of this year and 80 percent at the end of '07," LaNeve said at the New York auto show earlier this month.
He added: "The dealers understand this, and we have been making great progress. Last year we did about 125 consolidation deals."
When needed, GM will continue to stimulate deals with financial help, LaNeve said.
"We get involved in helping facilitate the deals," he said. "We may participate on the margins on them, but the vast majority of these consolidations have been private capital."
LaNeve said GM's goal is to have all Buick, Pontiac and GMC sales flow through one channel.
"We are pushing real hard right now," he said. "(But) once we get past 80 percent, we will ease off some and kind of do them one at a time, as opportunities (arise)."
As of Jan. 1, 1,676 GM dealerships sold vehicles from all three brands - Buick, Pontiac and GMC - up from 1,409 a year earlier.
GM has been realigning its eight brands within four channels. Chevrolet and Saturn will be exclusive sales channels. Cadillac, Hummer and Saab will be sold by one dealer in each area, rather than through separate stores.
You may e-mail Rick Kranz at [email protected]