Buick removes brand name from 2019 vehicles

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News

Buick is removing its brand name from its 2019 model-year vehicle line, starting with the refreshed Envision crossover this spring.

The General Motors Co. brand instead is counting on the recognition power of the tri-shield logo, which will still be displayed on the front grille and on the back of vehicles, dropping the Buick name from its usual spot near the left taillight.

The 2019 Buick Envision drops the Buick name, relying on the badge alone for brand identification.

Buick conducted research on recognition of the logo at the start of 2017, and found 73 percent of those surveyed were able to connect it with the Buick brand, said spokesman Stuart Fowle.

The brand has long tried to overcome its stigma as an old-fogy mobile, most recently distancing itself from the connotations of the Buick name with the “That’s not a Buick” ad campaign that included Super Bowl spots with Cam Newton, Miranda Kerr and Odell Beckham Jr.

The Buick brand is comfortable in its premium-but-not-quite-luxury category, what the company calls “attainable luxury,” but is moving to present itself as a “more understated brand,” Fowle said.

Removal of the Buick name badge comes as the brand builds up its high-end Avenir trim line. The missing Buick name leaves room for Avenir badging, though Fowle declined to confirm plans for a new Avenir logo.

He said the badge removal is a move toward “global consistency,” since the brand’s vehicles in China don’t carry the Buick name. Buick is an important piece of GM’s Chinese business. It was the automaker’s best-selling brand in China in 2017, delivering 1.18 million vehicles in the fast-growing Asian market.

The 2018 Buick Envision, shown here, carries the brand name in the usual place below the driver-side taillight. That goes away for 2019.

Buick’s U.S. deliveries were down 4.5 percent in 2017 on a decline in fleet sales, with the Encore being the brand’s bright spot for the year — up 12.1 percent. Through February, Buick was up 2.5 percent on gains from the Regal, Lacrosse and Enclave.

The Buick-less Envision arrives at dealers later this spring. The removal of the name badge was first reported by GM Authority, which noticed the lack of Buick badging in photos of the Envision released last month.

Buick is also offering a free month of Wi-Fi for U.S. owners of vehicles equipped with OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi for the duration of March Madness.