General Motors bought out roughly half of Buick dealers across the U.S. due to their reluctance to sell electric vehicles as the automaker looks to transition to EVs.
About half of GM’s 2,000 Buick dealers accepted the voluntary buyout. The program remains open so additional dealers may opt to take the buyout instead of making the EV-related investments that GM required for them to continue selling Buicks, as GM is planning for the brand’s vehicles to be 100% electric by 2030.
A spokesperson for the company told FOX Business in a statement, “Buick is transforming, launching the best vehicles the brand has ever had and is the fastest growing mainstream brand in 2023. This all needs to be supported by the best customer experience in the transition to EVs.”
“As stated before, this year we’ve given dealers who are not aligned with Buick’s future to exit voluntarily in a respectful and structured way; with the full support of our National Dealer Council,” the statement continued.
Last year, GM began planning to offer buyouts to its network of Buick dealers after it told the dealers to invest at least $300,000 to facilitate the selling and servicing of electric vehicles – including initiatives like the installation of EV chargers and training of staff – or give up the Buick franchise, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
|GENERAL MOTORS CO.
The company noted in its statement that Buick sales are up nearly 60% this year even as it reduced the number of dealer points by 47%. It added that nearly 90% of the U.S. population lives within a roughly 25-mile radius of a Buick dealer so they will continue to have access to parts and service.
Dealers who have accepted the buyout will no longer sell Buick vehicles, although they can continue to sell vehicles from other brands under the GM umbrella, like Chevrolet or GMC.
GM, which is also the parent company of Cadillac, instituted a buyout program for Cadillac dealers in 2020 that reduced the number of dealerships in the brand’s network by about one-third.
Some auto dealers have been hesitant to embrace the EV push. A group of over 3,000 dealers sent an open letter to President Joe Biden last month urging him to “tap the brakes” on EV mandates amid relatively soft demand for EVs at present.
“These vehicles are ideal for many people, and we believe their appeal will grow over time,” the dealers wrote. “The reality, however, is that electric vehicle demand today is not keeping up with the large influx of BEVs [battery electric vehicles] arriving at our dealerships prompted by the current regulations. BEVs are stacking up on our lots.”
FOX Business’s Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report.