General Motors Corp. says its strategy of grouping its Buick, Pontiac and GMC brands into one distribution channel, which began in 2002, is working.

The 1,600 dealers currently aligned with the B-P-G channel account for approximately 80% of the sales from the trio of GM nameplates.

“This is a great channel, with three strong differentiating brands and a strong dealer body,” says Susan Docherty, named GM’s North America vice president-BPG channel, three months ago. “The B-P-G channel has some good momentum, and we plan to build on that.”

Getting the dealers aligned into one channel has been one of GM’s top priorities for the last three or four years. “And we are continuing to work to align dealers along the B-P-G channel, because this makes good business sense,” she says.

“In recent weeks, there have been several articles commenting on the numerous potential auctions by GM in response to these difficult industry and economic conditions. Though the significant shift from trucks to cars and crossovers is a new reality, General Motors and Buick-Pontiac-GMC have performed well in several growing segments.”

Docherty, who previously served as GM’s Western Region general manager, says in a year-to-date comparison, Pontiac Vibe sales have jumped 24%, Pontiac G6 sales are up 4.3% and on track for a third-consecutive year-over-year gain. Acadia deliveries are up 15% and the Enclave continues to be one of the fastest turn-rate vehicles in the industry.

“In addition, both the Acadia and Enclave have one of the highest conquest rates within General Motors, at 50%,” she says. “That’s terrific news for this channel, to think we have products that 50% of the people buying them are brand new to General Motors.”

With consumers migrating from fullsize trucks and SUVs to cars and cross/utility vehicles, GM recently announced it is shifting production capacity to meet demand.

“We’ve increased our Acadia production by over 3,400 units and (the) Enclave by over 7,000 units for the remainder of the calendar year,” Docherty says. “We’ve also increased production at Lordstown (OH), Orion (MI), and NUMMI (New United Motor Mfg. Inc. in California) on the Pontiac G5, G6 and Vibe, respectively.”

Buick products are much more purposeful in design and “needs fulfillment,” she says. “Our portfolio strategy for Buick will be fewer models that achieve higher sales per model.”

Docherty also says GM thinks it has the right product and retailing strategy to move the needle for Buick.

With the help of the Pontiac and GMC brands, the B-P-G channel allows the auto maker to optimize each brand by developing distinct and complementary vehicles that reduce overlap.

“This is one of the most dynamic times this industry has seen,” Docherty says. “I’m sure for many of us, if we looked back five years, we couldn’t have predicted some of the things that we are seeing in the industry right now.”

dstark@wardsauto.com