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Dealers Pressing Buick for More Regals

The Regal enjoys a 40% conquest rate, GM says, with customers coming out of midsize luxury cars from such brands as BMW and Audi.

POCONO, PA – General Motors Co., which launched production of the turbocharged 2.0L Ecotec-equipped Buick Regal at its plant is Russelsheim, Germany this week, is having trouble keeping up with demand for the base models in the U.S.

The turbocharged Regal, expected to hit showrooms in late November, will expand the model's portfolio. A higher-output version of the 2.0L turbo will go in the Regal GS performance model due in 2011.

So far, demand for the Regal in the U.S. is outstripping inventory, says Christopher M. Ayotte, marketing manager for the car. Receptivity in the market has been “amazing,” he says.

“Dealers are asking for double what we can provide in their monthly reorders,” Ayotte tells Ward's at the International Motor Press Assn. Test Day event here.

Ward’s data show GM held 5,920 units in the U.S. at the end of July, equivalent to an 87-day supply for the still-ramping-up Regal.

The average Regal transaction price is a little over $28,000, he says. The car bases at $26,995 and tops out at about $31,780. The turbocharged version will start at $29,495, with a fully equipped car reaching $35,185.

The Regal enjoys a 40% conquest rate, Ayotte says, with customers coming out of midsize luxury cars from such brands as BMW and Audi.

“The (Audi) A4 is the aspirational intender,” he says.

Through August, Buick sold 3,878 Regals in the U.S. Almost 80,000 were sold in China last year. Another 150,000, badged the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, were sold in Europe in 2010.

This year, GM says Insignia sales have reached 250,000 through August.

Russelsheim will begin to ramp down North American production when output of the Regal gets under way at GM's Oshawa, ON, Canada, plant in March.

Ayotte declines to forecast how many Regals will be sold in the model’s first year in the U.S.

“We're going to sell everyone we can build,” he says. “I see a lot of upside for the Buick Regal. It's going to be a high-volume model for Buick.”

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