GM to import Chinese-built Buick - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

GM to import Chinese-built Buick

DETROIT (WNEM) -

Not too long ago the Buick brand was stitched into the very fabric of Flint and Mid-Michigan.

But times have certainly changed as GM announced plans to import a crossover utility vehicle, the Buick Envision, from China. And now, many experts question how it will sell.

"The Chinese consumer has had an interesting love affair with American vehicles," said Edward Loh, editor of MotorTrend.

For years, China has been in love with Buicks. The infatuation is part of a long history.

"In China, the Buick brand is actually known as the Emperor’s car," said Rob Peterson.

Peterson works for Buick and said in 2015, more than 950,000 Buicks were sold there.

GM leadership has pushed to keep the momentum, introducing the Buick Envision crossover in China just last year.

"It's a vehicle the Buick brand needs," Peterson said.

Buick builds the vehicle in China and the company announced this week it will soon be sold in the United States.

"At the volumes we use in the United States, it wouldn't make financial sense for us to build that vehicle here," Peterson said.

Loh is quick to point out the success of its sale nationally faces quite an uphill battle. Especially in Michigan, where the one-time staple of the community will now be imported.

"The question for me, I think a question for a lot of people, is will the American consumer take a vehicle made in China and import it here?" Loh said. "I think there's a lot of talk about keeping it local, UAW, American worker."

But Buick officials are quick to point out the Envision is American-engineered and the decision to continue its production in China comes down to the dollar.

"The only way a big company like GM is going to compete is if they keep costs down, make things locally when it makes sense, import things from other places when it makes sense," Loh said.

Buick has also launched a new concept vehicle, the Buick AVISTA, in an effort to compete globally.

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