General Motors, the parent company of Buick, is in the midst of a rocky year. It declared bankruptcy and then emerged 61% owned by the US Treasury. Its CEO was fired by President Obama. It closed or sold four of its eight car brands. Then came the news that GM would be removing its “Mark of Excellence” logos from all Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC cars. That move was due to research that showed customers associate GM with bankruptcy; its car brands have a better reputation than the company itself.
No Plug-in Buick Hybrid
Now, just two weeks after it announced the move, GM has killed a hybrid SUV crossover that it had planned to move from its defunct Saturn line over to Buick. The vehicle resembled the Saturn Vue and when it was showcased before 100 consumers and industry analysts at a product preview, the response was less than enthusiastic. That response led directly to GM pulling the plug on the vehicle. A blogger called the car “hideous” and it quickly became known on Twitter as the “Vuick.” Christopher Barger, GMâ€™s spokesman for social media, said the decision was based on face-to-face feedback, blogs, and tweets. People “just didn’t like it.” They expressed outrage that GM was up to its old standby of rebranding lackluster cars with new names. One tweet said, “#Vuick must die.”
According to product chief Tom Stephens, “We were all struck by the consistency of the criticism of the compact crossover.” As part of its restructuring and reorienting, GM executives have promised to be more responsive to customer feedback. Stephens went on to say, “In the past, this would have been a several-month process.”
Twitter Killed the ‘Vuick’
Some in the media contend that negative tweets caused the hybrid’s downfall. The Jalopnik car news site said it had confirmed that GM killed the car because of Twitter: “We spoke with two unnamed sources at GM, one in design and one in marketing. Both told us the same thing â€” the Buick crossover was killed after higher-ups read tweets decrying the styling of the plug-in electric platform prostitute of a crossover.” Others point out that there were likely concerns within the company and the negative response reinforced them.
GM has plans for another small Buck SUV, what they’re calling the “baby Enclave.” The company now says it will move the Vuick’s plug-in-hybrid technology to another car line.