It’s no secret General Motors’ Buick division does the majority of its business in China. The tri-shield brand offers up six separate nameplates in North America for 2017 while giving customers in China the choice of 10 (or 11, depending on how you count them) different nameplates.
One of the models Buick offers in China that it doesn’t offer here is this: the Buick GL8 — and it has a 30-year-old secret beneath its newly redesigned skin.
Ever since Bertel showed us the newest version of the Buick GL8 minivan, with its “Business Concept”-inspired design and executive airport shuttle mission, we’ve been curious about the chances of it coming to the US. After all, GM hasn’t sold a minivan in the US since the Uplander died in 2009, a far cry from the 336,000-odd minivans The General sold in America just ten years before. But when we asked our Best and Brightest if Buick could use a minivan, the response was a fairly resounding “no.” One particularly uncharitable soul even suggested that we were trying to goad GM into making a mistake in order to have something to bash them for. But, as it turns out, GM’s US execs didn’t need to be goaded at all to consider bringing the GL8 to the US market. GM China boss Kevin Wales tells Reuters [via the Baltimore Sun] that
They’ve looked at it on and off as long as I’ve been out here. They’ve made a fundamental decision that says demand for that type of product’s not strong enough. We say that’s fine. We’ll just keep selling out here.”
China’s going nutty over the next-generation of Buick GL8 minivans, which recently strutted its Buick Business Concept-derived styling in downtown Shanghai. We’ve heard rumors of a Buick MPV coming stateside for some time, with each successive rumor placing the “Baby Enclave” on a different platform, first Delta then Gamma. Though the latest intel seems to indicate that the US will get a Buick-badged version of the suicide-doored Opel Meriva, wouldn’t an Epsilon-based full minivan be a more natural fit for the US market? Sure, it might cannibalize the Enclave some, but that hasn’t stopped Buick from offering no fewer than three mid-sized sedans. Could Buick be the next brand to re-hip the minivan? Should it be?
At the Beijing Auto Show, they had a fine-looking and well-appointed Buick MPV, called the “Business Concept” (shown above.) I gave it no mention. After all, who cares about a concept MPV that will never see the light? Big mistake, Schmitt: It will see the light faster that I thought, namely by the end of the year.