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Buick to import China-built Envision to U.S.?

by Drew Johnson

A Chinese-made Buick may soon be available in the U.S.

The Buick Envision SUV could become the brand's first China-made vehicle imported into the United States, a new report finds.

Buick introduced the Envision last year as the middle child of its utility vehicle lineup, slotting between the small Encore and full-size Enclave. Dealers have been clamoring for Buick to bring the Envision to the SUV-hungry U.S. market, but so far the Envision has been limited to the Chinese market.

That could soon change, however, as some industry experts are predicting that Buick will begin U.S. sales of the Envision, which is roughly the size of the BMW X3, during the second half of next year. And with no immediate plans to build the Envision on North American soil, Automotive News says those vehicles would almost certainly be imported from China.

Although U.S. sales of the China-built Envision seem fairly likely at this point, there are a few hurdles to clear. Buick is on track to sell well over 100,000 units of the Envision in China this year, leaving little available export volume at the SUV's Shandong province plant. Forecasters say Buick would only sell about 20,000-30,000 units of the Envision annually in the U.S.

Buick parent General Motors is also in the midst of contract discussion with the UAW, with word of a China-sourced Buick sure to ruffle a few feathers at the negotiating table. There is also the question as to whether U.S. buyers are ready to accept a China-built Buick.

So far Buick is keeping tight-lipped on any plans to sell the Envision in the U.S., but we may get word at a major auto show sometime next year.

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