Most Buick vehicles sold in the United States after 2016 could be imported from China and Europe, according to sources familiar with parent General Motors’ plans.
Most Buick Models’ Manufacturing Moving Overseas
Buick is planning to shift production of the compact Verano sedan from Michigan to China in late 2016, the sources said. Production of the mid-size Regal sedan is likely to shift from Canada to either China or Europe in 2017.
One Buick model, the subcompact Encore crossover, is currently imported from Korea. Production will eventually shift to China, the sources said.
Buick is also planning to add two new U.S. models from overseas plants: The compact Cascada convertible, which will be imported early next year from Europe, and the compact Envision crossover, which will be imported from China in late 2016.
Buick will build only two U.S. models, replacements for the mid-size LaCrosse sedan and the large Enclave crossover, in North America if the plans move forward.
Build Vehicles Where They’re Sold
Buick’s parent company, GM, has long emphasized that its goal is to build vehicles in the regions where it sells them. That keeps transportation costs low and mitigates the impact of currency fluctuation.
Buick is four times more popular in China than in the USA
China is the largest market for the Buick brand, with sales last year of 919,582 vehicles, more than four times the 228,963 vehicles that Buick sold in the United States.
United Autoworkers’ Firestorm Over Buick Plans To Import Cars From China
General Motors’ decision to import Chinese-made Buicks to the USA will be a focal point in contract talks between the automaker and the United Auto Workers. The current four-year deal expires on September 14, 2015.
The UAW blasted GM in a public statement, making Chinese assembly of Buick vehicles a key bargaining chip in contract talks.
A Buick spokesman declined to comment on the UAW’s statement, saying talk of the Envision coming from China to the USA is speculation, but he acknowledged GM is “looking at all the opportunities” for the vehicle.
The UAW, which represents about 141,000 hourly workers at GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, seeks to secure the first pay raises for older members in more than a decade.
Will US Consumers Buy Cars Made In China?
If the crossover comes to the USA, it will test consumers’ willingness to accept vehicles made in China. It could also fuel the political fire over American competitiveness. Analysts say quality is on par with U.S.-made vehicles, and they don’t expect a backlash among consumers.