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Buick dealers were allowed to wave farewell instead of selling EVs, almost half did

Given the choice to bail, nearly half of all U.S. Buick dealers say sayonara to a changing industry.

Buick GMC dealerImage credit: Jerry Seiner Dealerships

Automakers might be going electric, but their franchise dealer networks aren’t all going with them. Buick recently offered buyouts to dealers who didn’t want to make the significant financial commitments required to effectively sell and service EVs, seeing almost half of them accept.

Buick’s dealer network will finish the year with 1,000 stores, 47% less than the 1,958 it started the year with. While that may seem dire for the automaker, the investments it asked dealers to make reached hundreds of thousands of dollars and would require extensive training. The automaker said EV investments will range from $300,000 to $400,000 on average.

Cadillac, a big participant in GM’s electrification with offerings like the Lyriq and the upcoming Vistiq, offered a similar pitch to its dealers and had around a third of them accept its offer for a payout between $300,000 and $500,000. The average investment Cadillac asks to sell EVs is $200,000. 

While the stores may be dropping the Buick brand, many still sell other GM brands that fit some local markets better than EVs. Pickup trucks are a significant product for the automaker, and some stores may choose to focus on them in areas where they sell far better than electric models. 

Dealers are skeptical of EVs because prices are high and consumer demand is sometimes shaky. Some likely view the investments as taking years to recoup and not worth the effort, but they’ll be left to used models and servicing gas vehicles as the industry shifts away. The topic is so sensitive for some that state-level dealer associations have begun actively campaigning against the transition to electric cars. What’s happening with Buick is a totally understandable occurrence, but still a sad one at that, given their vision of a bold future such as the Wildcat EV concept. While it’s looking increasingly likely that the electrification targets set by governments are too optimistic, EVs are selling in higher numbers, despite the woe-is-me data the media loves to highlight. What’s happening with Buick is a totally understandable occurrence, but still a sad one at that, given their vision of a bold future such as the Wildcat EV concept.

Buick Wildcat EV
Image credit: GM

Author

Chris Teague
the authorChris Teague