字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント In America, Buick is widely considered an old fashioned car brand perhaps best known for being the favorite of American grandparents. But in China, Buick is a kind of automotive rock star General Motors's near luxury brand was barely saved from the chopping block during the financial crisis in part because of Buick's strong performance in China. However, despite efforts to turn the brand around, Buick has not yet managed to distinguish itself in the United States. U.S. sales of the brand fell considerably further in 2018 than did any other GM mark even though Buick had realigned its portfolio toward SUV and crossovers and made bold and critically praised bets on sleek cars and wagons borrowed from GM's former European portfolio. But in China, which has the world's largest auto market, Buick is considered an elite, almost exclusive brand. In 2018, just over 80 percent of Buicks global sales were in China. GM sells more Buicks in China than on its home turf in the U.S. like almost five times as many. It also outperforms all other U.S. manufacturers that sell there. In America, Buick sold just under 207,000 Buicks in 2018. A 5% decline over the previous year. But in China, the brand sold over one million vehicles for the third year in a row. That is almost one third of the 3.64 million total vehicles GM sold that year! It is roughly twice the number of Chevrolets and four times the number of Cadillacs. Only GM's China exclusive Wuling brand topped Buick and only by a few thousand units. Buick also sells Audi, BMW, and Mercedes Benz in China. So why did a brand that struggles at home become such a hit over there? The reasons for this unusual status are varied and go back a long way. Buick has been in China since the early 20th century. It was a car of choice for many famous Chinese political figures including Sun Yat Sen, commonly regarded as one of the founding fathers of modern China. And Zhou Enlai, the first premier of the People's Republic of China. China's first impression of beauty comes from the 1950s Buick. And this is when all the important representatives of state and government officials in China were riding around in Buicks. Go back and look at 1950 Buick and you think about them driving around the streets of China. It would've left quite an impression on everyone who saw one. One key moment came in the 1990s when China's auto market was still very much in its infancy. Buick was already GM's most famous brand in China and it partnered with a local manufacturer to make brand new vehicles that stood very much apart from the competition. Bearing the name that already had such a prestigious reputation in the country, the Chinese never forgot that. The brand's prestigious reputation particularly among the country's decision makers gave it a considerable head start. But it didn't rest on its reputation. Some credit is also due to GM's partner in the region. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation which is about the best regional partner GM could hope to have in the country. SAIC has over the years pushed GM to keep the quality of its cars high and the product fresh. A very important step in a country where consumers are spoiled for choice. The result is that the fit and finish in Chinese Buicks is the best the brand offers in the world. As of 2018 Buick had sold 10 million units in China since it had first launched in 1998. So they have a big partner that's what got them established and that will be one of the key factors for them to continue to thrive in China. It's going to depend on maintaining that relationship and continuing to foster that relationship. A lot of success depends on a good domestic partner. Over the years, Buick has also been careful to cater to these somewhat unique tastes of the Chinese buyer. For example in China one of the major coaches of choice for high powered executives is, believe it or not: the minivan. Spacious and luxurious, minivans have almost a limousine-like status in China. So Buick answered that call and made upscale minivans that are considered some of Buicks marquee products in the country. The vans have interiors considerably upgraded from the average family mover found in the United States and enough space to seat a Chinese executive's sometimes large entourage. The brand has also worked hard to appeal to the country's younger consumers. The average Chinese Buick buyer is younger than 35. About half the age of the average buyer in the U.S. Even Buick's Chinese advertisements are distinct. Bearing high tech and futuristic depictions of young urban and often wealthy people. On the other hand, Buick has struggled in the U.S. for a variety of reasons. A decline in quality over the decades is partly to blame, say many industry analysts. Buick also fell victim to wider practices at GM such as the habit the automaker had of slapping different brand names in a single vehicle. The characteristics that made Buick distinct from fellow GM brands, not to mention other competitors, faded away and the brand lost its identity, becoming mostly a vehicle for customers who remembered what it had been in its heyday. Now Buick is trying to take some of the lessons it has learned in China and bring them back home as it tries to forge a renaissance in America. For example, GM began manufacturing the Buick Envision in China and importing it to the United States. Something President Trump seems to have overlooked when he was on the campaign trail slamming U.S. automakers for building cars abroad. "So these are the biggest in the world and we're going to be talking to them and we want them to build more cars in the United States and also build them here and ship them overseas." GM even sought an exception to U.S. tariffs on imported cars for the Envision. It will not be easy for Buick to shake its frumpy image and get back on buyers' consideration lists. Buick has for several years now scored highly on industry analysis firm J.D. Powers metrics for quality and has also earned competitive scores on service. But Buick knows it has to fight to change buyer perceptions in the U.S. One recent ad campaign featured actors pointing to the brands cars and asking incredulously: "Is that a Buick?", as though they were surprised something so stylish could bear that nameplate. But industry analysts, such as Cox automotive Karl Brauer, think the brand can still make a go of it in the U.S. if it can succeed in China. That prompts the question of how long Buick's success in China can last? As Brauer is quick to note: "a company's reputation in China can change in an instant," often for reasons that have little to do with the brand itself. Japanese and Korean automakers have found this in the past. Buick is the eighth largest brand in China in terms of market share, competing with other foreign heavyweights such as Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan as well as several Chinese name brands. So far, things have been far better for GM in China than they have been for Detroit's other big automakers. Fiat, Chrysler, and Ford. But it doesn't look like the good times can go on forever.