Buick counts on Encore SUV, new models for sales – USA TODAY
DETROIT — Buick is hustling in the final days of 2015 to keep its five-year streak of U.S. sales increases intact, but even if it falls short, three new models should rekindle the momentum in the second half of 2016.
One of those three, the Envision compact crossover, will be unveiled Jan. 10 before the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, along with another new offering that Buick declines to discuss.
Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick and GMC, said today that bringing the Chinese-assembled Envision to the U.S. was essential for Buick to compete in what has become the hottest segment of the U.S. car market.
The United Auto Workers union protested General Motors’ decision to import the Envision during this year’s labor negotiations, but Aldred said GM has made key engineering changes at the Warren Tech Center that will make the crossover more appealing to American consumers.
“The engines will be of larger displacement. There will be certain comfort and technological features (such as park assist and hyperstrut front suspension) that aren’t available in China,” Aldred said.
Through November, Buick sold 202,347 vehicles in the U.S. this year, down 3% from the same period in 2014. The decline would have been larger had it not been for the strength of its Encore subcompact crossover, which became the best-selling of the brand’s five models this year.
Encore and its larger crossover counterpart, the Enclave, accounted for 58% of Buick’s sales. So as the migration of American consumers from traditional passenger cars to crossovers continues, importing Envision was inevitable.
Buick has sold more than 1 million vehicles in China this year, Aldred said, including about 140,000 Envisions.
The vehicle is produced in Yantai, in Shandong province, by SAIC GM Dong Yue Motors, a joint venture between Shanghai GM (50%), GM China (25%) and Shanghai Automotive Industry (25%). The plant also produces the Chevrolet Aveo, Sail and Trax.
In February, Buick dealers will begin selling the Cascada, a small convertible imported from a GM plant in Gliwice, Poland.
The Envision will go on sale in July, along with the redesigned Buick LaCrosse, which was first shown in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Workers at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant will make the LaCrosse.
As for the surprise that Buick will unveil at its Jan. 10 event at Eastern Market in Detroit, don’t be shocked to see a production version of the Avenir full-size sedan concept shown at the event last January. Or will Buick place more chips on the SUV/crossover boom with a vision of the next Enclave, already near the end of its product cycle?