|Mike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive News.|
FRANKFURT -- A memo from overseas to U.S. Buick watchers: Pay attention to what GM's Opel brand is doing on the other side of the pond, including the lithe Monza concept it unwrapped at the auto show here today.
Because, more than ever, what's Opel is Buick, and vice versa.
The flowing lines of the Monza's greyhound-like, fastback shape represents "a symbol of the next wave" of Opel designs, and by extension of Buick's future styling, says designer Mark Adams, who recently was tapped as the point man on GM's joint Opel-Buick strategy.
GM sells Opel and Buick on mostly shared vehicle platforms, and sporting similar but varied designs, in the world's three largest markets: North America, China and Europe. Cousins include the Opel Mokka and Buick Encore; the Opel Insignia and Buick Regal; and the Opel Astra and Buick Verano, sold in China as the Excelle.
GM CEO Dan Akerson wants the brands to share even more of an identity, and by extension, share more engineering resources, which will help leverage GM's weighty cost structure in Europe.
"If you look at the voluptuous, flowing shapes on the Monza concept, and then you think about the sculptural beauty of Buick's designs in North America, they start to fit together nicely," Adams told Automotive News after unveiling the concept here. Adams was reassigned in June from lead designer for Cadillac and Buick design in Detroit to become head of design for GM Europe, with a special focus on aligning Buick and Opel.
So, you shouldn't expect future Buicks to sport gullwing doors or a high-resolution display that spans the entire dash -- this is a show car, for sure. But you can expect sleeker, sportier, more athletic designs.
Study the Monza concept for clues.