Veteran auto marketer to manage Buick-GMC

AP News
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Posted: Dec 01, 2009 2:48 PM

A veteran automobile marketer was named Tuesday to lead General Motors' Buick-GMC division.

Michael Richards, who held a variety of sales and marketing positions over more than a quarter century at Ford Motor Co., will succeed Susan Docherty, who was appointed GM's head of sales in October.

Robert A. Lutz, GM's vice chairman of marketing and communications, appointed the 52-year-old Richards.

Richards worked at Ford from 1981 to 2008. Most recently, he led the use of digital and Internet-based sales and marketing for the automobile industry at Trilogy Enterprises Inc. in Austin, Texas. He also has consulted for J.D. Power and Associates in Troy, Mich.

"Michael is an automotive industry veteran who brings extensive experience in both marketing and sales," Lutz said.

GM is confident Richards will build on the momentum Buick GMC has with the 2010 Buick LaCrosse and GMC Terrain and the upcoming Buick Regal, Lutz said.

Buick is one of four core brands _ with Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac _ that play a key part in GM's turnaround effort.

Buick has been absent from the tough midsize market since 2004. Executives hope the Regal, much of it designed by GM's Opel engineers in Germany can help bring in younger buyers, who are crucial to any brand's long-term growth.

The median age of a Buick customer is around 68. GM is targeting those in their 40s and 50s.

Buick sales so far this year are down 33 percent from last year, while the overall U.S. market is off 25 percent.