For years, America’s strongest brand in China has been Buick. Now, the tide of has turned, and we Americans will be buying Buicks made in China. It all starts with the new Buick Envision crossover.
There was speculation that this would happen as far back as last year and news has been on the rise over the past few months, but only today has GM made the move official, as Automotive News reports.
General Motors has been building Buicks in China for years now through their ‘Shanghai GM’ joint venture with the Chinese auto giant SAIC. You may know Shanghai GM from its unbelievably successful line of econoboxes and vans, like the Wuling Rongguan or the cheery Wuling Sunshine!
Strong Chinese sales has kept Buick alive, particularly as Buick’s American buyer base died off in the past decade (RIP my grandma Silvia and her LaCrosse).
That said, Chinese Buicks have principally been little sedans like the Buick Sail, which was an old Opel with a new badge, or the Buick Excelle, which used to be an old Daewoo with a new badge.
Now, however, the Buick lineup in China (see their website here) is looking more and more like the Buick lineup we get here in America, with the usual big sedans and crossovers.
Why is this? It’s because China’s taste in cars is even more American than America’s taste in cars. They buy roominess and comfort, and that works out perfectly for a brand like Buick.
That and their production is crazy cheap.
So it makes sense that Buick’s newest hot seller, their midsize crossover, will be imported directly from SIAC’s plant in Shandong province to the United States.
In China the vehicle is called the 昂科威, but we’ll cal it the Envision here. It’s about the size of a Ford Escape, a segment that Americans rightly adore. Crossovers like these are roomy, tall, and with all-wheel drive, completely capable in all parts of the country.
This Envision will start off as AWD-only, with a 2.0 liter turbo making 252 horsepower. GM says that pretty much all of the development work on the car was done in Michigan, and they note that the AWD system was designed by the British company GKN Driveline. But still, the whole thing will be made in China.
This won’t be the first bit of the Chinese auto industry to make it into the U.S. (GM got that started with a Chinese-made engine in the Equinox some years ago, and Volvo put out the S60L from China,), but it will be the first very mainstream, fully-Chinese car we’ve had here.
It was only a matter of time.
Photo Credits: GM. Or is that Shanghai GM?
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