General Motors Co. Vice Chairman Tom Stephens said Wednesday that the company is scrapping plans to produce a Buick crossover sports utility vehicle, just weeks after announcing the product to a flurry of negative reviews.
Stephens, writing on GM’s FastLane blog, said that after previewing designs to consumers during a showcase of the company’s future lineup, executives canceled plans to move forward with the midsize vehicle.
“The Buick crossover we showed received consistent feedback from large parts of all the audiences that it didn’t fit the premium characteristics that customers have come to expect from Buick,” Stephens wrote. “We were all struck by the consistency of the criticism of the compact crossover.”
Some of that criticism was aired on blogs and Twitter posts. GM opened its doors to about 100 consumers last Monday, showing off future models of Chevrolets, Buicks and Cadillacs. The automaker — which has embraced use of social networks since its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and exit — encouraged invitees to use their Twitter sites to post comments about the vehicles on display at the event.
The Twitter comments about the now-abandoned Buick crossover were not all favorable, said Christopher Barger, GM’s director of social networking.
“They made clear they didn’t like the ’Vue-ick’,” said Barger in a message to The Associated Press via Twitter Wednesday. “Twitter was a factor, just not the only 1. Also took into account in-person reactions of both consumers & media when they saw it.”
The Buick crossover sport utility vehicle was first announced in Traverse City, Mich., earlier this month. There were two versions of the car in the works, one with a traditional combustion engine and one with a plug-in rechargeable system that would have entered the market in 2011.
The plug-in version of the vehicle — which had not been named — was originally destined for the Saturn brand, which GM is now selling to Penske Automotive Group.
The decision to can the Buick was made during an executive committee meeting last Friday, Stephens said, adding that the move is an example of the new GM moving swiftly to make decisions that affect the company’s product line and please consumers.
“In the past this would have been a several-month process involving meeting after meeting of the APB, ASB, and various other acronyms, and also many ’offline’ follow-up discussions before a decision was reached and enacted,” Stephens wrote. “This happened in one day.”