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Buick Offering Buyouts to Dealerships Saying No to EVs

Dealerships resisting the EV wave will be dispatched with a monetary going-away gift

  • Global Vice President of Buick and GMC Duncan Aldred said this week that buyouts will be offered to dealerships not willing to invest in EV equipment.
  • With a goal of selling only EVs after 2030, the brand is readying its network for the shift.
  • Buick has roughly 2,000 dealerships across the United States.

Following Cadillac's lead in the GM family, Buick is offering a save-face option for dealerships that don't wish to partake in the electric vehicle revolution. Two years ago, Cadillac offered a similar buyout to its 880 dealerships nationwide with sums ranging from $300,000 to $1 million, and one in six reportedly accepted the offer. For some, that was more palatable than investing the necessary $200,000 and up to buy the equipment and infrastructure to support EVs like the Cadillac Lyriq.

GM has put its commitment to EVs on display in a multitude of ways, including multibillion-dollar injections of cash into its Ultium battery development and production. GMC revived the Hummer as an EV with a tight development turnaround (only 18 months), and dealers that wanted to sell the Hummer EV were required to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to equip their facilities with the proper lift and charging stations. Buick is planning to exclusively sell electric vehicles by 2030, so it's up next on the dealership culling program.

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Preparing for the dealership shuffle

Of the roughly 2,000 Buick dealerships in the U.S., most of them share a showroom with GMC and may have already transitioned to EV-ready status. According to Automotive News, only 13 of those are stand-alone Buick shops and the rest share space with GMC. It stands to reason the independent shops in smaller markets could be the first to take the buyout.

"Not everyone necessarily wants to make that journey, depending on where they're located or the level of expenditure that the transition will demand," Aldred told the Wall Street Journal. "So if they want to exit the Buick franchise, then we will give them monetary assistance to do so."

If a Buick dealer opts to take the buyout, it forfeits the Buick franchise and can no longer sell Buick models.

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Bo Mandal, chairman of the Buick-GMC National Dealer Council, told Automotive News that  Buick leaders presented the program to dealer council members recently and support was "unanimous."

"When they talked about the Buick initiative, we were clear on one thing: No. 1, it's absolutely, 100 percent, dealer choice and it's voluntary," Mandal said. "We would not have ever supported an agenda on this Buick initiative any other way. And to be completely transparent, they didn't present it in any other way, so we were very thankful for that."

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Buick's future rides on the new Electra line

The first Buick Electra was a fin-wearing full-size luxury car that was manufactured from 1959 to 1990. Buick revealed that all of its EVs will carry the revived Electra name, with the first one beginning production in 2024 as a 2025 model.

Unveiled in June, Buick's Wildcat EV concept showcases the brand's new face, logo and design language for Buick's upcoming electric vehicles. While the concept is a two-plus-two coupe, the brand has already stated that Electra models will all be SUVs. After that, the market will determine which shape Buick cars will take.

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Edmunds says

As dealership structures shift in the U.S., it's smart business for Buick to join its GM siblings to trim the herd. Moving to an all-EV lineup will require full buy-in from the dealerships that remain.