Mark Hines, brand manager for the Buick Regal and Century, says both cars have a similar sales story so far this year.

First quarter retail deliveries are down 24% for both models, as Buick sales overall have plunged 16.4%.

There are two reasons for the large drops, Mr. Hines says: Buick has only carryover models for the first half of the year, and ’00 sales got a boost from an owner loyalty incentive program that is not in effect in 2001.

Despite lower sales, Buick is not trying to boost volume with rebates.

“We don't want to set the benchmark on incentives, but we won't give away market share,” Mr. Hines says. “We think we can be strategic with incentives. I could sell out a plant with a $3,000 rebate,” he says, adding that Buick won't do that.

A Buick insider says the division expects to finish the year with greater volume than in 2000 because of the introduction of the Rendezvous crossover utility vehicle. Even if all the cars finish the year with a 6% drop in sales, the Rendezvous sales in the second half should propel Buick to a higher volume this calendar year. In 2000, Buick sold 404,612 light vehicles.