Saved from what many assumed would be its extinction, Buick has been reborn in the 21st century under a revitalized post-bankruptcy General Motors.
Buick, which dates back to 1899 as an engine builder, is the oldest American automobile brand to still exist today. Under the guidance of William Durant, Buick was the country's largest automaker at the turn of the century and it was one of the first brands to be integrated under what would eventually...
become General Motors.
As the second-highest prestige GM unit, Buick was somewhat below Cadillac but still noticeably ahead of Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Chevrolet. Unfortunately, Buick's mission in life became somewhat muddied during an era of product indifference during the 1980s and 1990s. Fortunately for Buick, the brand's introduction to the Chinese market in the 1990s proved to be its saving grace. When GM began shedding brands like Oldsmobile, Saturn and Pontiac beginning in the late 1990s, many assumed Buick was next in line. However, strong demand in China kept the brand afloat. To survive in North America, Buick was reborn as a more youthful stepping stone between Chevrolet and Cadillac within the GM portfolio.
Now, China is by far Buick's most crucial market, although North America remains an important cornerstone. As a result, today's Buick lineup is the result of an increasingly global effort. The division has drawn heavily on GM's engineering bases in Korea, Germany and Detroit to make vehicles that appeal to both American and Chinese buyers, like the compact Verano, which was first introduced in China, and the midsize Regal, which is essentially a rebadged German-market Opel.
With its renewed emphasis on relevant, global products, Buick is once again fulfilling its original mission of offering a premium feel at a more modest price point than traditional luxury brands.