Of the dozens of new cars, trucks, crossovers and concept vehicles to make their debut at this year’s North American International Auto Show, perhaps none has generated as much buzz as the Buick Avista.
The striking 2+2 show car got a special preview the night before the auto show’s official media preview began and has continued to draw crowds since the 2016 NAIAS opened its doors to the public with a splashy black tie charity preview last Friday.
To turn a popular movie cliché on its head, if they come, will GM build it? That was a question TheDetroitBureau.com has posed to a number of senior General Motors executives, including President Dan Ammann. But for those who might be ready to plunk down a deposit, the news isn’t good.
“There isn’t much of a coupe market anymore,” Ammann said during the Friday night charity gala after having his picture taken with his own family on the Avista stand. “The market has been shifting to SUVs and trucks.”
(For a closer look at the Buick Avista concept, Click Here.)
There was a time when sporty looking coupes like the Avista would be an essential part of a brand’s line-up, especially upscale marques such as Buick. Indeed, through the mid-1980s, 2-door versions of General Motors’ midsize models were a must. And the sleek Riviera put a halo around the Buick brand.
But by the ‘90s, car buyers were migrating by the millions to more practical products, first to sedans and then to sport-utility vehicles. These days, utes in all their forms are gaining ground on sedans and could take the sales lead in the next year or two.
“We see a lot of growth. SUVs were 30% of the industry last year but could go to 40%” before the end of the decade, Ford President Joe Hinrichs told TheDetroitBureau.com.
(Acura Precision Concept hints at new design direction for Japanese luxury brand. Click Here to check it out.)
That’s leading GM and most of its rivals to rush to market with new utility vehicles, even as they re-think the need to add more conventional passenger vehicles.
Buick is a good example. It is rapidly expanding its line-up of crossover-utility vehicles, the 2016 Detroit Auto Show also bringing the official debut of the new Envision. The compact ute is targeting one of the market’s fastest-growing niches, though it is also setting off a bit of controversy as the first General Motors model that will be imported from China.
Buick isn’t walking away from its sedans. It is updating current line-up, such as the LaCrosse. But it’s growing increasingly unlikely there will be now sedans or coupes joining the Buick family any time soon, senior officials caution — with one exception, the new Cascada convertible, an Americanized version of a GM model from Europe.
The Avista is just the latest concept to win rave reviews for the brand. Buick scored big at the 2015 North American International Auto Show with the debut of the Avenir, a large luxury sedan sharing the same underlying platform as the all-new Cadillac CT6. And it has just as many fans inside GM. But global product development chief Mark Reuss has told TheDetroitBureau.com that his team has not yet been able to come up with the business case needed to put Avenir into production.
And, GM insiders say, it will be even harder to make the numbers work for the Buick Avista, even if it has won a slew of accolades, including honors as the best concept at this year’s Detroit show.
GM will continue to research opportunities in the U.S., but the key to putting Avista into production will be China, Buick’s largest global market. A few years ago, it might have stood a good chance there, but as in the U.S., Chinese motorists are rapidly migrating from passenger cars to utility vehicles, making it less and less likely that either Avenir or Avista will ever make the leap from concept to production.
(For complete coverage of the 2015 North American International Auto Show, Click Here.)
Tags: 2016 North American International Auto Show, Mark Reuss, auto news, buick avenir, buick avista, buick concept car, buick detroit auto show, buick news, car news, concept car, dan ammann, gm news, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisenstein, thedetroitbureau