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商业 - 汽车

2011年别克昂科雷:迎接转型

Alex Taylor III 2011年04月29日

与别克系列的其他车型一样,经过在中国市场的锤炼,通用汽车公司的跨界车也具备了极高的市场敏感度,并且终将受益于此。

    在破产后重组的新通用汽车公司(General Motors),别克车继续上演着灰姑娘的故事。而且,在这篇童话中,要变幻出“玻璃舞鞋”,远不只增加新车型那么简单。在美国市场,别克被重定位为卡迪拉克(Cadillac)的奢侈品牌伴侣;而在中国市场,又能巧妙地利用技术领导者的地位,获取竞争优势。别克在一路高歌猛进。

    上周开幕的上海汽车展上曝出了最新的数据点:别克展示了外形亮丽、时尚的SUV概念车,该车采用碳纤维底盘,并内置有混合动力传动系统。虽然这款名为Envision的SUV采用外国技术规范,也就是说它绝不会照目前的形式投产,但是其出众的外形,却赫然向整个汽车世界宣告,别克已经彻底洗心革面了。一位深受感动的网络日志作者写道:“哇!看来有关别克已经老掉牙的笑话开始过时了,更别说变得完全不着边际了。”

    2011年,别克更是捷报频传:今年晚些时候,经销商将开始销售紧凑型的Verano。这款车以雪佛兰科鲁兹(Chevrolet Cruze)为基础,通用汽车设在中国的分支机构亦参与了开发。言外之意是,这款车不仅具备了能满足中国客户需求的高水平的生产工艺,而且大规模生产也必将产生更为丰厚的利润。

    Verano是别克系列中以价格取胜的产品。有了它的加盟,别克已然异常强劲的美国市场销量势必会如虎添翼。尽管只有四款车型,2011年第一季度,Verano的销量已经增加了39%,开始撵上一蹶不振的雷克萨斯(Lexus)。

    昂科雷七座跨界车于2007年问世,现在已是别克系列中最老的车型,已到了更新换代的时候。鉴于其上市已有四年之久,你很可能以为它会拖整个别克系列销售的后腿,但是事实刚好相反。这款整整四年前推向市场的车型,可谓欲老弥坚,2010年,它还创下了新的销售记录,而且本年度迄今为止,其业绩更好于去年。一款产品在其“晚年”实现如此出色的业绩,对产品规划师和开发工程师而言,无疑是最好的宣传。

    昂科雷基于成功的Lamda平台,被视为重振别克品牌的车型。在它之前的朗迪(Rendezvous)、Ranier、和Terraza等多用途运载车因业绩不佳已为人们所遗忘。昂科雷甫一问世,即一扫上述几个系列的市场阴影,获得了巨大成功。该系列夺目的外形设计,超大轮眉,看似舷窗的通风口,再加之显眼的护栅,虽然看似怪异,但赢得了广泛的青睐。

    美中不足的是:体重过大,有4,780磅之巨。如此一来,虽然该系列搭载3.6升V-6发动机,其油耗(每加仑汽油行驶的里程)仍然显得成绩平平:16英里/加仑(城市),22英里/加仑(公路)。相较之下,本田(Honda)奥德赛(Odyssey)小货车同样可以搭乘7人,但要轻近700磅,油耗为19英里/加仑(城市),28英里/加仑(公路)。

    但是,有其弊必有其利,虽然体重过大,却有利于行驶平稳,并且确保行车时车内没有噪音,凸显了别克的特征。按照通用汽车最新的产品定位,别克是“平易近人的”高质量产品,而与卡迪拉克锋芒毕露、极度张扬的风格形成了鲜明的对照。我此次的测试用车标价近5万美元,这辆亮咖啡色昂科雷完全能满足高端用户的需求。该车的标价比制造商建议零售价(MSRP)的起步价高出4,885美元,原因在于它多了电动天窗、采用20英寸的铝制车轮并且加装了DVD音响系统。

    在昂科雷内部,仪表盘及其周边设计颇具品味,而且木纹装潢材料的使用也恰到好处。此外,与新款别克车不同,昂科雷内的各类开关与控制杆表面均未镀铬,虽然这样简朴的设计看似有点过时,但实乃幸事一桩。在周末假日,开着昂科雷跑上500多英里,纯属小菜一碟。但是,由于采用悬架设计,在驶过崎岖不平的路面或者急转弯时,平稳地驾驶汽车绝非易事,因而可能更适合年长者。由于油价已经攀升到4.25美元/加仑,即使搭载3.6升V6发动机,也省不了多少钱。

    在位于底特律郊区的通用汽车公司设计中心转上一圈,你便会发现,眼下昂科雷正在进行中期转型。自2008年起,昂科雷汽车开始出口到中国。与别克品牌的其他车型一样,经过中国市场的锤炼,昂科雷也培养了极高的市场敏感度,并且最终很可能会受益于此。现在,美国市场对不断攀升的油价异常敏感,为此,通用汽车制定了减重计划。但这一计划看来又得推迟了。

    译者:大海

    The Cinderella story at the new General Motors continues to be Buick -- and this fairy tale has more glass slippers than simply a supply of new models. Repositioned as the luxury brand partner of Cadillac in the U.S. and smartly leveraging its status as a technology leader in China, Buick is piling triumph upon triumph.

    Last week's opening of the Shanghai auto show provided the latest data point as Buick revealed a strikingly styled SUV concept with a carbon-fiber chassis and a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Named the Envision, the SUV's exotic specifications mean it would never see production in its current form, but its appearance sends a clear message to the rest of the auto world that Buick is not to be messed with any longer. Wrote one impressed blogger: "Wow, the Buick and age jokes are getting old, not to mention irrelevant."

    Better Buick news for 2011 is still to come: The compact Verano reaches dealers later this year. Based on the Chevrolet Cruze, the Verano was developed in partnership with GM's China operations. That means it will not only display the high levels of craftsmanship that Chinese customers demand, it will also benefit from the richer profit margins that come from higher production volume.

    As the price leader in the Buick lineup, Verano will put a supercharger behind Buick's already robust U.S. sales results. For the first three months for 2011, its volume is up 39%, despite a lineup of only four models, and it is nipping at the heels of slumping Lexus.

    The Enclave seven passenger crossover, introduced in 2007, is now the oldest car in the Buick lineup and due for a makeover. Given its age, you would expect it to be a big drag on results, yet the opposite is true. Launched exactly four years ago, the Enclave has gotten stronger as it gets older; 2010 was a record year, and its sales so far in 2011 are even better. That's the kind of late-in-life performance that can produce promotions for product planners and development engineers.

    The Enclave is considered the vehicle that ignited the Buick revival. Based on the successful Lamda platform, it swept away earlier efforts at utility vehicles that bore such forgettable names as Rendezvous, Ranier, and Terraza. The Enclave's voluptuous styling with its oversize fender arches, porthole-like hood markings, and prominent waterfall grille bordered on the baroque but attracted favorable attention.

    Less applauded was its excessive weight – 4,780 pounds -- which produced mediocre gas mileage: 16 miles per gallon city/22 mpg highway with a 3.6 liter V-6. By comparison, a Honda Odyssey minivan, which can also carry seven passengers, weighs about 700 pounds less and gets 19 mpg city/28 highway.

    All that additional mass, however, contributes to a quiet interior and smooth ride, which reinforces Buick's identity. In GM's new product positioning, Buick moves up to full top-shelf status as the "approachable" brand in contrast to Cadillac's edgy attitude and performance bent. With an as-tested price of nearly $50,000, my Cocoa Metallic Enclave test car certainly reflected upscale aspirations. The sticker reflected a $4,885 bump from the base MSRP due to the power sunroof, 20" aluminum wheels, and DVD system.

    Inside, the instrument panel and surroundings were tastefully designed, just barely avoiding excessive use of wood-grained trim. Likewise, the center stack of switches and controls was blessedly lacking the chrome-finished accents festooned on newer Buicks, though their plain design seemed a bit dated.

    Over the road, the Enclave processed more than 500 miles of holiday-weekend driving without a snarl. The suspension though, seemed tuned for older passengers, which made it a handful on random bumps and tighter-radius curves. And the 3.6 liter-V6 provided little relief from $4.25 per gallon gasoline.

    The Enclave is due for a mid-cycle freshening, as a recent tour through the GM design center outside Detroit confirmed. Like other Buicks, it will likely benefit from a refined sensibility learned from China, to which Enclaves have been exported since 2008. A weight-reduction program, reflecting an American sensitivity to higher gas prices, will have to wait.

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