GM Executives Aren't Worried About Buick's Future After Opel Sale
General Motors’ sale of Opel to France’s PSA Group sparked much debate on what the European division’s loss would mean for Buick, which holds strong product ties with the German manufacturer.
The new Buick Regal, which bowed today in liftback and wagon bodystyles, shares its architecture with Opel’s new-for-2017 Insignia. At the 2018 model’s Detroit-area launch, GM’s executives downplayed the impact on its Buick division, claiming there’s no disruption in sight for the brand.
According to Car and Driver, GM’s vice president of global Buick and GMC, Duncan Aldred, isn’t concerned. “The sale of Opel will have no impact on the fresh new lineup Buick is building out,” he claimed.
GM stands to gain $2.3 billion from the completed sale of Opel, its UK subsidiary Vauxhall, a smattering of assembly plants across several countries, and its main engineering center. GM Financial’s European operations are also part of the deal.
Besides the Regal, which is built in Rüsselsheim, Germany, Buick draws its Cascada convertible directly from the Opel lineup. The Encore, badged as an Opel Mokka in Europe, comes to the U.S. by way of GM Korea, while the Envision sails from a factory in China (where the model first debuted). The LaCrosse sedan and full-size Enclave crossover, of course, are U.S.-built.
The sale comes at a significant time in the life of the Regal, but Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president of global product development, purchasing, and supply, said the model isn’t threatened by the sale. (Market direction is another matter.)
“This is very much part of our portfolio plan,” said Mark Reuss. “As we said, Opel and the engineering/production piece of this is very much intact for all of our global platforms. So, you know, no impact.”
While the deal isn’t complete, Reuss claimed that all product-related issues would be solved by the time GM officially hands off its operations to Opel. That would keep Opel-based Buicks flowing to U.S. dealers for the models’ current generation, at least. He wouldn’t say whether GM would pay PSA for development work in the future.
Buick has said in the past that utility vehicles — much like with other automakers — are a big part of its focus. It’s easy to see the Cascada being dropped at the end of this generation, leaving the Regal as the only major question mark. Still, the two automakers aren’t parting completely.
In a continent rapidly adopting new laws limiting the use of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles, PSA needs electric vehicle technology. It had its eye on Chevrolet’s Bolt, sold in Europe as the Opel Ampera-e. Part of the deal between the two companies includes a collaboration on electrification projects designed to give both companies an edge in the expanding segment.
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