Buick will soon be able to market itself, at least in part, as a company with “German car quality.”
General Motors’ European Opel sub-brand said today that it will build one model for Buick at its plant in Ruesselsheim, Germany. The company didn’t specify which model that would be, but also said today that it plans to invest over $336 million in the plant to build a new model there that it plans to keep secret until the end of the year for “competitive reasons.”
Last year, Buick unveiled its Riviera concept (pictured) in China – by far it’s highest volume market – as a possible flagship model. At the time, GM said the car represented a preview of future designs for the brand, but didn’t suggest that it was plotting a production version of the concept itself.
Last May, General Motors then-North America president Mark Reuss said he wanted something like the Rivera for the brand. “Something special for Buick, I think, is really needed for the next phase of where that brand is going,” he told Automotive News.
In Europe, the plan to share a model between Opel and Buick will help the company squeeze the most out of its production capacity by offering it in more markets. It’s part of GM’s plan to reduce losses in Europe where it also recently chose to pull its Chevrolet brand almost entirely.
But the news is, perhaps, even more important in North America where Buick dealers sorely in need of fresh and unique products could have a new nameplate to lean on. Above all, they will finally have a shred of credibility in the luxury market where German-built products are especially well regarded.
Given the added cost for Buick to build a car in Ruesselsheim and import it to the U.S., it is highly unlikely that the anonymous model will turn out to be a nameplate already sold in North America. The Opel Insignia is built there and also sold in North America as the Buick Regal. But that car is built for North America in GM’s Oshawa, Canada plant. Building cars in Germany is expensive, and GM’s choice to do so suggests the model in question will be marketed as an upmarket, premium product.
Opel also announced today that it plans to stop exporting vehicles to China, which is Buick’s top market and also where the company chose to first show the Riviera concept.
Over the past few years, several other Buick product rumors have arisen, from a revival of the Grand National nameplate, to the sale of the Opel Cascada convertible as a Build in North America.
Reuss, who has a notorious fondness for performance cars, moved this year from his previous post to head up General Motors’ global product development, which means he’s in a position to make the Buick model he mentioned If there were ever a chance for the chips to fall in favor of Buick getting an exciting model, now seems like the perfect time.
GALLERY: Buick Riviera Concept
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