The Buick Envision is a meh car, but somehow Buick dealers sold 42,000 of these things in the U.S. market last year, making up 20 percent of its total U.S. sales. But it’s built in China and imported here, so thanks to the proposed Trump administration tariffs on imported cars, it could vanish from Buick’s American lineup—and maybe put Buick in a not-great position here.
According to a report from Automotive News, on July 30th General Motors applied for an import tariff exemption for the Envision. If the Trump administration’s proposed automotive industry tariff, said to be between 20 and 25 percent, comes to fruition, and GM doesn’t get an exemption, it will be forced to drop the Envision from their lineup.
The Envision is built by Shanghai GM, a joint venture between GM and SAIC Motor Corp, and imported to the US market. Buick sells tons of these things in China, and comparatively few here in the U.S., so it doesn’t make fiscal sense to move production to this country.
Yet it’s a compact crossover that GM says helps flesh out the Buick lineup in order to compete head-to-head against brands like Audi, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz. Those are GM’s words. Via Automotive News:
GM president Dan Ammann said Friday, “While the volume of Envisions sold in the U.S. is small, it is strategically important and essential to the Buick brand. A 25 percent tariff on the Envision may eliminate the vehicles from Buick’s U.S. offerings. The profitability that we generate on that vehicle, selling it in the U.S. market, we obviously reinvest in the business here so we think it’s in everybody’s interest for that to continue.”
Such tariffs are expected to have a much broader effect on Buick than GM’s other three brands. It could put Buick in an untenable position in the U.S., which accounted for only 15 percent of the brand’s 1.4 million global sales last year — while China made up 83 percent.
If Buick were to lose the percentage of sales that they garner from the Envision in the US market, it could be a huge blow to the brand’s domestic dealer network, already stretched thin and heavy on imports that will be directly affected by tariffs. The Buick Encore is based on the Opel Mokka, and is built in GM’s South Korea plant. The Buick Cascada is based on the Opel of the same name, and is built in Poland. The Buick Regal is a re-badged Opel Insignia, and is built in Germany. Only the LaCrosse and Enclave are built in Michigan.
GM would not say if it had applied for import tariff exemption for any of their other cars.