Following yesterday’s confirmation that the Opel-based Buick Cascada would exit production, and the plant that produces the LaCrosse closing, Buick is down to only the Opel-based Regal and three crossovers to fill dealer showrooms. While sedans aren’t exactly netting foot traffic to dealerships, they are kind of Buick’s bread and butter. To have no full size quasi-lux sedans in the lineup is a travesty, and a first for the brand. In order to quickly fill those empty spaces in the lineup, Buick may have to reach to its Chinese lineup, says Automotive News.
While the Enclave, Envision, and Encore accounted for more than 80% of Buick’s 2018 sales, and the lion’s share of that going to the compact South Korean-import Encore, there is still room for Buick to devote at least some effort to the sedan market.
Buick has relied on Opel-based imports for a number of years now, and that relationship has basically gone away as GM sold off its interest in the German brand to PSA Group. It would be difficult for Buick to develop a new platform from the ground up in time, and it would make sense for some of those Chinese-built Asia-only models to join the U.S. market in rapid time. Buick already sources the Envision from SAIC GM Dong Yue Foundry in Yantai, Shandong.
“Buick is a big, big player in China. There’s no doubt that’s going to be true for a long time to come,” Phil Brook, vice president of Buick and GMC marketing, told Automotive News during an interview in Detroit last month. There are opportunities there for Buick to introduce models for both the Chinese and North American markets.
Because the Chinese market is introducing new legislation to mandate EVs from all brands selling in country, Buick will already be working on an electric model for the China market, where it sells most of its cars. This could be one example of synergy between Buick NA and Buick Asia. If GM plans to launch 20 zero emissions models in the next four years, surely Buick will be one to receive such a car, and China is likely to play into that plan.
Of course, automotive tariffs on Chinese imports will potentially force Buick’s hand on this matter, so everything is in flux for the brand for now.