The Buick brand of General Motors will introduce a 24-month lease deal in an effort to strengthen lease penetration to the levels at par with other luxury brands. The brand is facing the industry's longest streak without a monthly sales profit. Beginning Thursday, Buick dealers will offer the "Experience Buick" lease program.
This includes free scheduled maintenance, OnStar and Sirius XM radio for the entire lease cycle. Normally, customers will get free OnStar for six months and a free satellite radio for three months.
Executives at Buick believe that the short lease term complemented with the freebies will attract luxury buyers who might not have considered the brand. The lease is offered through Ally Financial. According to Buick marketing chief Tony DiSalle, the offer is "really a call to action" to buyers to consider Buick's offer from the point of view of "great product and great customer treatment."
Sales of Buick increased after the bankruptcy of GM, soaring 52% in 2010, and 14% to 177,663 units in 2011. However, they have dropped in each of the last five months, including a 17% decline this year through February.
On the other hand, the industry recovery quickened its pace. Cadillac is also another U.S. brand that has not recorded a monthly profit since September. In addition, Buick is relying on the latest Verano compact as well as the upcoming Encore compact crossover for its 2012 sales growth.
DiSalle disclosed that leases formed 24% of Buick's sales in 2011, an increase from the previous years but still trails most luxury brands, some of which come with lease penetration rates exceeding 50%.
Vice President Brian Sweeney of Buick-GMC sales and service explained that the program also is targeted at strengthening customer retention by driving service business to dealers. Mike Bowsher, who owns three Buick-GMC stores in the Southeast, related that dealers are willing to reinforce their lease business. He is also the co-chairman of the Buick-GMC National Dealer Council.