On Sunday, General Motors unveiled images of its Buick Envision crossover, which is slated to become the first car that is imported from China by Detroit’s Big 3. So far, the automaker has sold over 140,000 units on the Chinese market.
The Envision will be officially made public during this year’s North American International Auto Show. The car reportedly is manufactured at a Chinese plant. The Detroit automaker hopes for the new vehicle to be a big hit in the U.S., too, since Americans are now more interested in SUVs and crossovers as gas prices remain at record-lows.
According to a recent report, sales of crossover utility vehicle in the U.S. jumped 18.5 percent last year, while sales of traditional passenger cars slipped two percent. Analysts explained that GM’s move was driven by the need to diversify the Buick lineup. So, it is easier to just start importing a product that is already available for sale on a foreign market.
But not everyone was at peace with the news. Members of the United Auto Workers union criticized GM for its decision while negotiating labor conditions this year. Yet, the company argued that it is faster to import the Envision from China than producing it in a North American plant which is already working at full capacity.
The Buick Envision crossover is expected to reach the U.S. market in July.
GM unveiled that the U.S. version of the Buick would be different from the Chinese one. Engineers said that there would be improvements to make it more alluring to the U.S. market. For instance, the U.S. version would feature park assist and a larger engine displacement than the Chinese version. Both versions are four-cylinder but the U.S. version has of 2-liter engine while the Envision sold in China had a 1.5 liter engine.
Plus, importing any car from China now is extremely profitable as the Chinese stock market dragged down both international financial markets and the country’s currency. Beijing currently keeps devaluing the yuan to boost the export of Chinese-made goods including cars.
While some experts say that there is no reason for concern as Buick has been importing cars from other countries for years, other analysts are not that optimistic. They argue that Americans would rather bet on American cars than on foreign ones. For instance, it took a while for the public to trust Korean cars, despite South Korea gaining just about everyone’s trust in the U.S. with its high-end electronics.
Image Source: Wikimedia