When we tested the new Buick GL8 in earlier this year, we came away highly impressed by Buick’s 7 seater land yacht, it drank a lot of fuel but it felt almost worth it to see in those plush leather seats and listen to the V6 grumble along under the strain of an exceedingly heavy vehicle. At the time some of our GM contacts mentioned that when American GM executives fly into China they were rather miffed that they don’t get the GL8 back in North America and wish GM would get its own NA executive van. Not a chance it seems. Despite the brands slow and steady revival, the chances of a Buick minivan popping up in America any time soon seems rather slim, but to American media it seems that the concept of an executive Buick van is even stranger.
Bloomberg (via SFGate.com) recently ran a story on the GL8′s success:
General Motors Co. sells a model in China so popular with executives that it’s often lined up outside galas and high-end restaurants: A Buick minivan.
If it’s surprising that China’s business elite prefer these big, boxy models to luxury sedans, it’s perhaps more striking that GM’s Buick GL8 is the hands-down leader. The Detroit-based automaker did so poorly in minivans that it quit making them in the U.S., where they are often considered the least-glamorous family haulers, spurned by moms who prefer the style of a sport- utility vehicle.
“It is a perfect example of where one product can be revered in one country and reviled in another,” said Rebecca Lindland, an industry analyst with IHS Automotive. In China, the Buick GL8 is “ubiquitous, like a Town Car in Manhattan or chauffeured limousine in L.A. The assumption is that someone important is in one.”
Sales in China of the GL8, which retails for as much as 388,000 yuan ($ 61,000), rose 28 percent last year to 66,900, according to researcher LMC Automotive. That’s more than double the sales of Honda Motor Co.’s Odyssey, the No. 2 foreign-brand minivan, LMC said.
Although the article largely rings true, it should be pointed out that the Chinese market Odyssey is not the same as the US market model which is considerably bigger and bulkier than sleek Chinese market version which is essentially a 7 seater wagon.