General Motors plans to replace the Buick Regal sedan in the United States with a sedan-styled five-door hatchback and Buick’s first wagon in two decades, according to two auto forecast firms.
The new Regal models are expected to be rebadged versions of Opel’s Insignia Grand Sport hatchback and Insignia Sports Tourer wagon, which were showcased last week at the Geneva auto show.
Cutting the Regal sedan is an aggressive move for Buick, but not surprising given the market’s shift from cars to higher-riding and more spacious crossovers and SUVs.
U.S. sales of midsize sedans have dropped for two consecutive years, and the segment is off 20 percent in the first two months of 2017.
A hatchback provides the styling of a sedan but some of the storage capacity and flexibility of a crossover, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of Buick’s 229,631 U.S. sales in 2016.
GM most recently hinted at plans to develop a hatchback with sedan styling when it introduced the five-door Cadillac Escala concept car in August.
The 2018 Buick Regal is scheduled to make its global debut on April 4 at GM’s Warren Technical Center in suburban Detroit, a week ahead of its first auto show appearance in New York alongside the redesigned Buick Enclave crossover.
Buick spokesman Stuart Fowle declined to comment on the body types planned for the next-generation Regal, which has been a midsize sedan since the automaker resurrected the nameplate in 2010.
LMC Automotive and AutoForecast Solutions expect the hatchback and wagon versions of the Regal to be built at Opel’s Ruesselsheim factory in Germany and imported to the U.S.
A sedan version of the next-gen Regal is expected to be produced in China for that market but not exported to the U.S. or Europe. It is expected to be introduced in April at the Shanghai auto show. Leaked photos of the car show hood lines compared to the hatchback’s that align with the large glass window.
Current production of the Regal for the U.S. is expected to end at GM’s Oshawa, Ontario, assembly plant this year.
The Regal wagon would be Buick’s first entry in the segment since production of the Century and Roadmaster ended in the mid-1990s.
The next-generation Regal could be the last produced by Opel, after GM last week agreed to sell the operations along with its Vauxhall unit to French automaker PSA Group for $2.3 billion.