By on March 9, 2009

Automotive News [sub] reports that even as GM seeks to spin Opel off to anyone who has the cash to save it, it’s raiding its German subsidiary for competitive product. Specifically, Opel’s much-vaunted Insignia sedan is set to become the 2010 Buick Regal, rather than the 2010 Saturn Aura as previously planned according to anonymous sources. Which is not completely surprising considering that Saturn as we know it has shuffled off the mortal coil, and the Insignia is, by many reports, a great car. But it’s still a horrible idea. Buick has already debuted another 2010 Epsilon II-based model, the LaCrosse, making for some instant cannibal action. “We’re looking at a bunch of stuff from a sedan standpoint,” says BPG VP Susan Docherty. “We’re going to add some more sedans, so stay tuned.” Docherty declined to comment specifically on the Buick Insignia fandango, but tells AN that “as GM works to cut Pontiac’s product offerings, the company can offer new Buick vehicles to keep the Buick-Pontiac-GMC channel well-rounded.” Well-rounded? Seriously? Besides revealing that GM is light-years away from whipping its perennial cannibalism problems, this story also suggests that Opel will continue to share architecture and platforms with the corporate mothership. Whether they need them or not.

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33 Comments on “Buick Is Opel. But Why?...”


  • avatar
    BDB

    There is no need for Buick. “Entry-level” luxury brands are going the way of the Dodo.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    A few comments here.

    First, the Insignia is not impressive. It’s big, it’s a bland design in person, and neither the performance nor the fuel economy are especially good.

    The reality is that the mainstream D-segment has been taking a heavy beating in Europe for a long time from ‘premium’ cars like the 3-Series and Audi A4. This is why Opel tried to premium-ize the Insignia, where the Vectra was just basic transportation.

    I’d be very surprised to see the Insignia on sale under the Buick name in the US. By surprised, I mean it’s not going to happen so don’t break a sweat.

    Perhaps in China, Buick will get both the Epsilon 2 Lacrosse and the Insignia. But in the US it’s just not in the cards.

    There is no manufacturing facility set up for the Insignia here, and they’re not going to import a car so similar to the Lacrosse for a significantly higher cost.

  • avatar

    To my knowledge this Opel rebadge is for China only. It won’t share showrooms with the LaCrosse here in the US.

  • avatar

    @BDB- Wait, Buick was an entry-level luxury brand?

  • avatar
    BDB

    “@BDB- Wait, Buick was an entry-level luxury brand?”

    They’re supposed to be between Chevrolet and Cadillac (I think) right?

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Justin: Good points, but why would this be published in AN if there weren’t plans to bring the Insignia stateside? The anonymous source says that “The Opel Insignia, due to go to Saturn as the redesigned 2010 Aura, will go to Buick as the 2010 Regal sedan in the United States.”

    I’ll agree that there’s no sense in holding ones breath for either the LaCrosse or the Regal to come stateside. This all just reads as more product death flailing from GM.

  • avatar
    slateslate

    ****There is no need for Buick. “Entry-level” luxury brands are going the way of the Dodo.****

    [email protected]#()FLJ why must some people have their head in the sand. BDB is right on…

    Even if there is no Great Depression II, the economy won’t roar back.

    The market will be segmented between the Hyundais of the world, the BMWs of the world and used cars.

    VW, Acura, Buick, et al. …near luxury is SOL.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    They are raiding the carcass, and throwing out the empty bones for others to pick up as litter, insisting there’s meat left for dinner…

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Clarkson said it was a ok car but pointless because the market for that kind of vehicle had dried up.

    but down in the comments on the same page Steve from Darby, England suggested “As for Vauxhall ‘products’… Give me a GM built Buick any day”

    GM really is screwed.

  • avatar
    Axel

    @slateslate

    The market will be segmented between the Hyundais of the world, the BMWs of the world and used cars.

    You left out the Hondas of the world. Not “near-luxury,” but vehicles for those who want to spend a premium for quality, durability, and driving dynamics that you can’t get from the Hyundais of the world.

    There’s a reason Honda thrives (current situation notwithstanding) while Acura withers.

  • avatar
    charleywhiskey

    Susan’s “looking at a bunch of stuff”. That seems to sum up GM’s product strategy today.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Immediately east of Westfield Southcenter mall south of Seattle among the tilt-up concrete industrial buildings is an Acura Smart dealership.

    Two vehicles that share the same “$10,000 overpriced” hubris.

    Maybe they’ll add the Buick.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    They are just raiding the company for anything they can carry that might be of any value before they dump it on the German government. If nothing else, this gives them a car they can sell in China for probably the next 20 years.

    Next week, they’ll announce that Hummer and Saab were really part of Opel all along and have to be carted away as part of any Opel deal.

    Just like a foreclosed house – rip out the appliances, but leave the trash behind.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    From Justin’s commentary it sounds like the Insignia would be a possible Impala replacement rather than just another anonymous left-lane-hogging blinker-riding greyhairmobile.

    Can’t let the Impala’s street-cred from the wrong side of the tracks go by the wayside by letting it become the fleet queen.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Edward Niedermeyer :

    Justin: Good points, but why would this be published in AN if there weren’t plans to bring the Insignia stateside? The anonymous source says that “The Opel Insignia, due to go to Saturn as the redesigned 2010 Aura, will go to Buick as the 2010 Regal sedan in the United States.”

    I’ll agree that there’s no sense in holding ones breath for either the LaCrosse or the Regal to come stateside. This all just reads as more product death flailing from GM.

    Well you’ve supplied the answer I would have given you. It’s just BS.

  • avatar

    The Insignia is the same size as the Malibu, and probably can be made in the same plant. Or wherever the AURA and/or G6 are currently produced.

    In China this car has already been on sale for a few months as the Buick Regal. So offering this car in China would not count as news, not by a long shot.

    The LaCrosse is a half-size larger, more luxurious car. Think Acura TSX vs. Acura TL. Or Toyota Camry vs. Toyota Avalon. I personally find the Insignia/Regal’s exterior styling much more attractive than the new LaCrosse’s.

    All that’s really happening here: Buick gets a model Saturn was supposed to get. Everything aside from U.S. production is already done, and U.S. production is probably nearly complete. Just need to source Buick trim in place of Saturn trim.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    Correct me if I am wrong:
    Insignia(Regal) = SWB Epsilon II
    LaCrosse/Allure = LWB Epsilon II

    Not sure there is a lot of difference (a few inches in length and maybe a hundred pounds) to justify having both (at least under the same brand).

  • avatar
    akear

    GM tried using Opels at Saturn and it brought the division to its knees. So it makes sense for backward GM to repeat the same mistake at Buick. We can look forward to Buick going under by 2015.

    Wagoner will be remembered as the division killer, and thus end up as GM’s all-time villain.

  • avatar
    njoneer

    “We’re looking at a bunch of stuff from a sedan standpoint.”
    “We’re going to add some more sedans, so stay tuned.”

    So for they have their future product plans narrowed down to “sedan”. It sounds like they will just be surprised at what kind of sedans they get. Despite being the VP over BPG, Susan Docherty is clearly not leading her troops.

    Maybe Buick/Pontiac dealers are giving her more of “Hey, that other country has a car that we don’t. The G5 worked out so well, We need the Chinese Buick Regal.”

  • avatar
    jurisb

    How many American dads worked on this Insignia?. I imagine their salaries as engineers were pretty high so they could educate and send their kids to University. WAit, …those were german fathers who built it and earned some dough to send kids to Universities. American dads just thought how to import and which badge to slap on the hood, and …earned, well 10 bucks an hour,. So their kids can afford a 2 day Chicken rolling tutorials at KFC. Those who do not learn from british car industry, are doomed to repeat it. The cancer of rebagde is entering its final stages…… And those who crack jokes about spinning off Opel or Daewoo don`t get the message. While Gm having clutched her tentacles around german and korean engineering, haven`t even noticed that their seeming donors have hatched millions of agile offsprings that will sooner or later devour the octuple mothership. Starting from brains, of course.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    Oh and by the way, i even don`t know why do I hate Clarkson more, because he is an arrogant snobbish ,typical gay-accented british or because he is so damn rightabout American cars, including Buick.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Saab was America’s Opel showroom, then Saturn and now Buick / and soon to be Chevrolet. I’m sure this’ll make for a big bonus for Rick and the soon to be put out to pasture Lutz.

  • avatar
    akear

    America can no longer engineer cars, but we make the world’s best popcorn.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    A good enough reason to hate Clarkson is that he is a statist-plutocrat — in other words, not much more than a fascist.

    He has said, literally, that bicycles should be kept off the road because their drivers do not pay gasoline taxes. And that buses should have no special lanes because they cater to poor people who do not contribute to GNP as much as he does. He is an amusing clown or better, a court jester who occasionally tells the truth. His judgement has been off so often that you can only rely on him for some interesting insights, but never for knowledge.

  • avatar
    gogogodzilla

    It’s a bad idea to turn Buick into the American Opel.

    The Buick customer base does not want European driving excitement, tight steering, or a taught suspension. The Buick customer is usually someone of retirement age looking for a soft, cushy ride… and will most likely go off to Lexus-land if Buick stops being the car for them.

    As for trying to get new customers… that’ll take a decade or two just to overcome the Buick’s old-retired-man image. And since when has GM *EVER* been able to focus on the long-term like that?

  • avatar
    Droid800

    They’re not the same Edward, and the fact that you don’t know that surprises me. The Insignia has a 6 inch (at least) shorter wheelbase, is probably a good 10 inches shorter overall, and weighs a hefty amount less. They are different-sized cars in different classes. (think Hyundai Sonata and Azera)

  • avatar
    akear

    So US tax dollars are now paying German engineers their salaries.

    Lameeeeeeeeeeeeeee……………..

  • avatar
    Droid800

    @Akear

    No, not remotely. The Insignia was already developed before GM began taking any money; any changes for the US market would be done by US engineers. (and that’s completely ignoring the fact that the epsilon II platform that underpins the Insignia and LaCrosse was a worldwide engineering effort, not just the product of one specific division)

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Droid800: So if you’ve got the Azera of “American near luxury” coming down the pipe, do you really want to ship the Sonata in from Europe?

    Also, my numbers say you’re a bit off, although not on the weight:

    2010 Regal
    111.7 in wheelbase, 197 in. overall
    4199 lbs

    2009 Opel Insignia
    107.8 in wheelbase, 190.2 in. overall
    3314 lb

  • avatar
    Droid800

    Okay, so the numbers were a bit off, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re in completely different classes. I don’t necessarily agree with this decision, but it isn’t as counter-intuitive as its being made out to be.

    You have to also think of this in terms of ‘new’ GM; no Pontiac, no Saturn, no Saab. They’re going to need a midsize car a step up from the Malibu, and below the CTS. With the La Crosse taking over for the Lucerne, Buick needs a smaller sedan that won’t offer the high-po engines.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Yes, well I happen to believe that Chevy and Cadillac have their work cut out for them on their own. Buick seems only to cloud the picture. I also think that the Insignia plan has more to do with keeping the IP out of Opel’s hands.

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    He has said, (Clarkson) literally, that bicycles should be kept off the road because their drivers do not pay gasoline taxes. And that buses should have no special lanes because they cater to poor people who do not contribute to GNP as much as he does.

    I agree with him. If all road funding comes from Gasoline (and Diesel) taxes, who should have priority?

    Let me put it another way, where I live, they move the cows from field to field on the public roads to include the 4 lane highway. Regional government has decided to build side roads along the highway with overpasses for the cows. Now, who should pay for this? The farmers? The taxed highway users? The cows? (actually the funding came primarily from the EU). But really…all this for COWS?

    In other words…dress for success. Naked people have no rights.

  • avatar
    anoldbikeguy

    As stated above – this is a global platform. This means various regions develop different portions. Sharing a platform is nowhere the same as badge engineering – or do you think that Honda is allowed a free ride when they make the Accord, Pilot, Odessey and various Acura’s from the same platform?

    It is the way that global companies do things now. Deal with it! Sharing a platform does not mean that powertrains are the same, that feature content is the same or that interiors are the same. It means that you have economies of scale from utilizing engineering across different vehicles that compete in different segments. Did the Regal compete with the LeSabre? I think not. And the Regal had a younger demographic as well.

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