Buick is following the lead of other luxury or quasi-luxury brands by spinning off a nameplate — in this case Avenir — into a sub-brand meant to elevate luxury a little bit.
The Avenir name was unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on a concept sedan built off the same Omega platform as the Cadillac CT6, and sharing many of the same features — direct injected V-6 with cylinder deactivation and stop-start technology, a 12-inch touchpad infotainment system, full LED lighting, selectable suspension settings and 9-speed automatic, to name a few — all wrapped up in a tidy, handsome full-size 4-seat, all wheel drive sedan that from some angles could pass as a Porsche Panamera.
Many felt it was inevitable that Buick would build the car primarily because it had expressed an interest in moving up a notch in luxury, that it had said it would welcome an Omega-platform sedan into the line-up, and because the Chinese market would eat up such a car.
For its part General Motors said it had no plans to build the car and never intended it to be anything but a concept to show what the platform and brand was capable of building in the future … hence the name Avenir, which is French for “to come.”
Well, it’s come. Buick has announced that the Avenir will grace its lineup in the future, but not on a new car, but on a bunch of new cars. Avenir will become Buick’s John Cooper Works, R-Line or M Sport — the highest expression of Buick luxury, with unique sculpted lines, 3-dimensional grille mesh (borrowed from the Avista coupe concept unveiled at this year’s Detroit show), large wheels, seat details, trimpieces and, of course, the script designator.
“Through the first half of 2016, Buick has been the industry’s fastest-growing major international brand, and Avenir is key to future growth and delivering on the high expectations of new customers coming to our showrooms,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick Sales, Service and Marketing. “Avenir will be Buick’s signature. The highest expression of the luxury experiences we’re delivering now and in the future.”
Company research has shown that one in two new customers is coming from a competitive brand, and 90% of Enclave crossover buyers are purchasing one of the top two trim levels, so the company thought the time was right to step it up a notch.
“Stretching the Buick brand’s international appeal and potential has been a major focus of exploration in our design studios,” said Helen Emsley, executive director of Buick Global Design. “Concept cars stretch the boundaries of what is possible and every new Buick is benefitting from this vision work. As the Avenir concept expressed the prestige vision for the portfolio, the addition of an Avenir sub-brand illustrates an important piece of future direction.”
Additional Avenir details and product specifics will be announced possibly as early as the Los Angeles Auto Show in the middle of November.