Eurofication of Buick lineup continues with … an imported Regal?
|Mike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive News.|
The Buick Regal already is the most Euro-looking vehicle in Buick's lineup.
In a few years, it might literally be European.
All signs point to General Motors importing the Regal from Germany beginning in 2017, when the sporty sedan is due for its first redesign since the nameplate returned to the Buick lineup in early 2010, after a six-year hiatus.
Let me explain.
The Regal is assembled on the “flex” line at GM's Oshawa, Ontario, plant, along with the Chevy Camaro, Cadillac XTS and the new Chevy Impala. The plant's future is shadowed in uncertainty.
Officials from Unifor, formerly the Canadian Auto Workers, say GM has made no promises about future investments in the plant. GM already has said that production of the next-gen Camaro -- expected to start sometime in the second half of 2015 -- will move to Lansing, Mich.
The Impala already is being made at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant. All of its production could be shifted there. The XTS is relatively low volume, and could be moved elsewhere if it survives Cadillac's expected introduction of a rwd S-class fighter by early 2016.
That leaves the Regal, essentially a rebadged Opel Insignia. Sources say a Regal redesign is planned for mid-2017, closely following the Insignia's makeover.
That timing aligns with this statement that Opel put out in March about its Russelsheim, Germany, assembly plant, where the Insignia is made:
"The Russelsheim plant has been chosen for the assembly of a future model which will be sold in the U.S. under the Buick brand name," the statement reads, citing start of production "in the second half of the decade."
An Opel spokesman declines to elaborate.
It makes sense. Opel needs to soak up unused production capacity in Europe. And Canada currently is one of the most expensive places on the planet to build cars.
GM execs have spoken often in recent months of more closely intertwining the Opel and Buick brands in vehicle underpinnings, styling and features.
Now it appears, in the case of the Insignia and Regal, they may be sharing an assembly line, too.
Editor's note: Earlier versions of this blog should have referred to the new Impala.
You can reach Mike Colias at email@example.com.