DETROIT -- Buick plans to phase out its Verano compact sedan in the U.S., a sign that the market shift toward crossovers has automakers rethinking the makeup of their vehicle portfolios.
General Motors rolled out a clean-sheet redesign of the Verano for China last year, but doesn't plan to introduce a U.S. version as had been widely expected, according to a company source and another person familiar with the plans. The current U.S. Verano likely will run through a 2017 model year, the sources said.
The move reflects a new reality for Buick: With the success of its crossover lineup, its three sedans -- the Verano, midsize Regal and large LaCrosse -- are pulling a disproportionately light share of the load.
Buick expects as much as 70 percent of its U.S. vehicle sales to come from crossovers soon after the Envision compact goes on sale next month.
Deleting the Verano is a bet by Buick that it no longer needs a compact sedan as a gateway into the brand, a role that small cars have long played for mainstream and premium brands alike. At Buick, that mantle has been assumed by the Encore, a subcompact crossover launched in early 2013 that has fast become its highest-volume name-plate and No. 1 conquest vehicle. About half of Encore buyers are non-GM customers.
Still, Buick's challenge will be to steer Verano buyers to the Encore or other options in the showroom.
"There were nearly 32,000 buyers who walked into a dealership last year and bought a Verano, not an SUV or a Regal," IHS Automotive analyst Stephanie Brinley said. "Any time you eliminate a product from the lineup, there's risk."
A GM spokesman declined to comment on future product plans.
"We haven't announced plans for a next-generation Verano and are focused on selling the one that we have," he said. The car is built at GM's Orion Assembly plant near Detroit.