By on June 15, 2018

Despite the negative stigma long associated with Chinese-built goods, we’ve grown used to — if not accepting of — the idea that some of our domestic vehicles might originate from a Chinese assembly plant. The Cadillac CT6 Plug-in, for example, hails from the Orient, as does all versions of the Buick Envision crossover. Volvo S90s sold in the U.S. also call China their birthplace.

Now, according to a 2019 model year VIN decoder document sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from General Motors, there’s two additional models that might carry Chinese heritage. Keep a lookout for a VIN starting with “L.”

According to the docs (H/T to Bozi Tatarevic), the subcompact Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore crossovers — two vehicles strongly associated with Korean production — both see a new plant location added to their VIN options, and it’s located in the People’s Republic of China.

Formerly, the Encore was produced exclusively at GM Korea’s Bupyeon assembly plant. Such models see a VIN starting with “K.” Most Trax models also hailed from this plant, though some of the vehicles shipped to U.S. dealers started their journey at GM’s San Luis Potosi plant in Mexico. These VINs begins with a “3.”

For the 2019 model year, the Dong Yue South plant joins the aforementioned assembly locations for both Trax and Encore. The facility, which builds a host of familiar vehicles for the Chinese market, is a joint operation between GM and SAIC Motor. The U.S.-bound Envision sees its assembly at Dong Yue North.

We haven’t heard anything about a slowdown in Korean production (recent cuts and a near-bankruptcy at GM Korea led to the shuttering of an underperforming plant), just that the division’s new deal should spawn a new compact crossover by the end of next year. Don’t expect to see Traxes and Encores with VINs starting with L everywhere you go.

Since GM stopped posting monthly U.S. sales figures, getting a handle on recent volume is tricky. Still, prior to the second-quarter decision, GM enjoyed very healthy sales of both the Trax and Encore. According to Wards Auto, GM imported some 32,000 Trax models from Korea last year, as well as 82,000 Encores.

[Image: General Motors]

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32 Comments on “Add a Couple More Vehicles to the List of Products That Might Be Chinese...”

  • avatar

    Mitch Ryder and the Dong Yue Wheels?

  • avatar


    IN YOUR Guangzhou Motors (GM)


  • avatar

    don’t want

  • avatar

    Thanks for the bailout that helped us shaft suppliers, bond holders, and share holders, and many more, American Taxpayers!

    We’ll continue to increase the number of Chinese-assembled, sourced from Chinese fabricated parts and components, vehicles that we sell in the United States, whether branded as Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Buicks, or GMC models!


    General Motors LLC (“New GM”)

    • 0 avatar

      I realize one sign of being old is repeating oneself, but….my caddy (2010) is already chock full of “MADE IN CHINA” stickers. Wiring harnesses, the big aluminum wheels with caddy crest on the outside, MADE IN CHINA on the inside. Many of the parts you see when you take the car apart have “MADE IN CHINA”.

      Too late. Anyway, this is my last GM product, because while the design and engineering are pretty good, the commodity parts suck….no matter where they are made. Cured me of my Vette fever, anyway….

      • 0 avatar

        When I was searching for coil packs for an Audi A6, the Chinese were even cornering the market for replacement coil packs for zeee Germans.

        In fact, for many “premium” makes/models, the “quality” replacement coils packs are now made in Poland, by Beru, a subsidiary of BorgWarner.

        Almost everything else (probably 90%+) is made in China even for Lexus, the Germans, etc.

  • avatar

    Since most parts are made in China these days does it really matter that final assemble occurs in China too? In my experience things on a car break for 1 of 2 reasons: cheap part or poor design – with most really being a combination (cheap plastic VW window regulators!). Improper assembly is rarely a problem unless you are taking fit and finish issues. iPhones are made in China and I’ve yet to have one break or fail, plus their fit and finish tends to be superior to the competition.

    I am not a fan of sending my hard earned money to China but your slowly running out of US based choices. I’d love for a manufacture to really test this “buy American” and offer two vehicles on the lot – one from the US and one from China then see which sells better. I think we know the answer. It’s the same reason there is a Walmart on every corner: if given a choice most people purchase the cheaper thing. Actually most people take the middle of the road option, which (these days) I assume is made in Mexico.

    • 0 avatar

      “Since most parts are made in China these days does it really matter that final assemble occurs in China too?”

      I call. For the record that both point of assembly, AND point of fabrication of all parts/components used to assemble the vehicle matters.

      “I am not a fan of sending my hard earned money to China but your slowly running out of US based choices”

      Well, if “we are” ‘running out of choices, why is that? Who/what has the power to alter this trajectory? Should this matter?

      AFAIAC, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, KIA, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and many other “foreign” manufacturers are both assembling more and more of their vehicles in the US, using a larger and larger % of US company-produced parts/components, while –

      General Motors (Guangzhou Motors) and Ford Motor Company are trending in the exact opposite direction.

      Many of our grandparents and even parents (and hopefully, peers) BRISTLE WITH INDIGNATION at the thought of Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Buicks, and Fords assembled in China, of Chinese State Owned Enterprise/JV supplier-made parts/components, and exported to the United States for sale.

      The same holds true of such brands made in Mexico, Thailand, Serbia, but obviously, THE STAKES ARE MUCH GREATER RE CHINA given that they have a clearly stated agenda to surpass the United States and her American Citizens in terms of economic, technological, and military might.

      • 0 avatar

        DW, sadly, most Americans won’t bother to look (or care) where their car is assembled, or where the majority of components come from. $300B+ in yearly trade deficits and lost jobs aren’t enough to keep people from running into Wally-world to buy the cheaper stuff. The consumer has the ultimate vote, and it would appear most have voted that Chinese is the way to go. A country that cannot provide for itself will soon become slave to those that can. It was ironic to see Xi up on stage a year or so ago, promoting the notion of China being the great bastion of free trade (well, as long as the trade is free in one direction, that is). Their ability to rapidly build their military and influence other countries is tied directly to the massive amounts of money they generate by selling goods to us. I know not everything I buy can be “Made in China” free, but I do as much as I can to read labels and buy American. Call it what you will, but after a life-altering event in a certain Middle Eastern desert, I’d much rather have a strong, independent and prosperous America than continuing to see our national wealth and position in the world erode. And I’d much rather see my friends, neighbors and family at work then propping up other countries, especially when those countries are neither friend or ally to ours.

        The “L” vehicles won’t find their way to my driveway anytime soon.

        Rant over!

        • 0 avatar

          Well put threer, and I agree in full. I will say the garden hose I just bought at wal mart as well as the Motorcraft filter for my ‘94 Ranger were both made in USA. The hose was more so “assembled in USA with global components” but I guess I’ll take what I can get. I always make it a point to buy American made odds and ends at the hardware store, like a really nice Wooster brush from Wooster Ohio. Sometimes the difference in price is just a dollar or two. Sad that more American consumers don’t take a quick look and realize that pittance of extra cost could support some families here in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      It is this very reason that I can count the number of times I have darkened the door of a Wal-Mart over the past decade+ on one hand and probably have three or four fingers left over!

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not just Wal-Mart. Go to any suburb mall and 99% of the junk there is either made in China or Bangladesh. And watch for the “Designed in Italy” nonsense; you know where it really comes from. We consume this crap by the pallet all over North America.

      • 0 avatar

        I will buy only motor oil, as I read somewhere it’s a loss leader. Literally nothing else.

    • 0 avatar

      +5, to answer JMII’s initial question: “Bad” and “worse” are not one and the same.

  • avatar

    Open the hood of any car and look at all the sensors. Not many say “Made in the USA” Your car may be assembled in the USA and it might even have a “Union made” one, but a lot of the components are sourced offshore.

  • avatar

    DW for president !!!!

    PS- I just bought a Car made in Japan. Trans & engine made in Japan. I m sure i ll be happy

  • avatar

    I would be more inclined to trust a Chinese made Volvo over a Chinese made GM.

    Volvo is trying to move upmarket. GM knows they are a default purchase for many.

    • 0 avatar

      At the Toledo Auto Show this year, I was eyeballing a new Volvo with an “L” VIN posted prominently on the Monroney, along with the country of origin.

      A couple standing next to me was “oooohhhh-ing” and “aaaahhhh-ing” over it. I pointed at said sticker and said “this gives me pause!” And walked away.

      I looked back, and they were walking away too, and I thought I heard the husband saying “the nerve…!”

  • avatar

    Ladies & Gentlemen, put “Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power,” by Howard French on your summer reading list if you will.

    I do not believe that I am being paranoid nor Xenophobic in stating that China has literally, openly modeled its centrally planned economy in the nearly singular pursuit of being able to ultimately project total, global hegemony, economically and militarily, and this inevitably necessitates being able to credibly threaten and undermine the western powers, particularly that of the United States.

    If one objectively looks at how US trade policy exists today, they’d inevitably conclude that we are allowing corporate interests to help China succeed in this endeavor, through technology transfers (technology theft), and some of the most self-serving, short-termist thinking and acting, amounting to batsh!t crazy sabotaging of the US and her citizens, putting the US on a sacrificial altar in exchange for the new god, short term corporate (and corporate CEO) profits/money/$$$.

    As just one example of this idiocy is the mandated Chinese Joint Venture partner (Chinese governmental actor) that every foreign company must “work with” if they want access to China’s domestic market of consumers (and we’ve been doing it, going along voluntarily, giving proprietary, advanced technology away, since the late 80s, when Most Favored Nation trade status was bestowed upon China).

  • avatar

    “What’s good for General Motors is good for China”

  • avatar
    "scarey "

    Back in the 1980s, a GM executive (I wish I had the article now) said that GM might quit producing cars in North America entirely. He was speaking about the mountain of regulations in the U.S. . At the time, everyone was worried about Japan, not China. And he may have been thinking out loud, but sometimes a comment like this can reflect long-term future planning. (Does GM actually think ahead longer than the next fiscal quarter ? ). One company that I worked for had an engineering manager make a similar comment, and it happened about 15 years later, long after I had left for another, better, job.

  • avatar

    It’s all good! Until it’s not.

    For Americans who have good jobs and health care, yes! It’s great to have a choice and buy all those imported goods, some of them by people happy to make $1-2 an hour (because that affords them what they consider a good life), some of them by people who are trapped in sweatshops making $1-2.

    For those Americans who lost their $15 hour unskilled jobs as a result, it’s not so great, since they can’t buy much. Though the little they can buy will cost less. They pay less in taxes, and cost more in govt services too, which means that those a little higher on the ladder must pay more in taxes (the elite can ‘tax avoid’) and/or we must borrow more money (which affects all of us–but again, the elite are somewhat immune to the vagaries of inflation and asset confiscation)

    Japan has open a pretty open auto market, yet even the Germans make limited inroads there. No tariffs, just that quaint ‘patriotism’, even as corporate Japan jettisons lifetime employment and moves more production off-shore.

    Say what you like about Trump (and there is a LOT I dislike about him), he is right-on when it comes to trade.

    Now, whether that is because he feels the world has gotten richer at America’s expense, OR whether he feels he and his family can profit by talking tough on trade and then ‘reaching deals’ with other countries–that we can debate, lol.

    One thing we can’t debate: there is NO way I am every buying a US-Branded vehicle made in China, built by people who live in a dictatorship that can imprison them on a whim. A pliable workforce is just what our big business leaders like. That’s why they love the H4 Visa program. Who says slavery is bad?

    Rant complete :)

    • 0 avatar

      Non-union, extremely low wage labor really helps the old throughput dollar, especially when you don’t have to schedule 40 hours for the hell of it. American companies can Kaizen and 6 Sigma themselves to zero inventory and still not be in the ballpark when it comes to bring competitive. Trump knows this and needs to level the playing field.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve heard that stuff such as Six-Sigma and ISO 9000 simply amounts to having a standard way to shuffle paper, and nothing more.

        This told to me by someone who made a living certifying to those standards.

        • 0 avatar

          If implemented properly, Kaizen and 6S can make a difference, I’ve witnessed it firsthand. ISO has become become more or less just an icon companies want to be associated with these days, All of these have become cottage industries in their own way, spawning thousands of consultants. It’s all moot versus government backed slave labor anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      tomLU86, Trump is entirely wrong about trade. and its effect on jobs.

      It is a fact that, since NAFTA was signed, US manufacturing output has doubled (in real terms,, so adjusted for inflation), while direct manufacturing employment has fallen by 1/3. Technology has been killing unskilled industrial jobs in this century, just as it killed unskilled jobs in agriculture 100 years earlier.

      It is also true that the focus on balance of trade is more than misguided, it is completely ignorant – as anyone who understand economics knows. For example, Japan has run a trade surplus every year since 1981, while the US has run a trade deficit every year since 1971. If one looks at GDP per capita over the last 25 years, the US has hugely outperformed Japan – real GDP per capita has fallen in Japan, while it has more than doubled in the US.

      We have spent the last 150 years learning that free trade builds prosperity, while trade restrictions destroy it. It’s a shame that so many people refuse to learn this lesson.

      • 0 avatar

        I am not going to get into the macro economic argument that you are setting forth (for a variety of reasons) at the moment.

        What I will do is state that with respect to China (and many other U.S. trade partners), there is no “free trade.”

        Free trade would presuppose a system where neither China nor the U.S. require than any tariffs or levies or any other monetary sums be paid in order to export or import any item or service being provided by the other.

        In other words, you and the many others who set forth the type of macroeconomic argument that you just did fly right past, almost seemingly intentionally, the fact that we have nothing remotely close to a “free trade” relationship with any of our trade partners, because that’s an inconvenient fact that does not support said argument.

        Tariffs and MASSIVE subsidies to companies and entire industries (direct and indirect) have muddied the waters of global commerce to such a degree, and infected global commerce so viciously, that the argument that you set forth is one that can only be made as one of pure theory, and not factual reality, able to be tested, because there’s never been “free trade.”

        And China strategically subsidizes key industries that its centrally planned government officials and economists have designated as “critical” (including automotive and automotive parts manufacturing) in a much more massive way as a % of GDP than the U.S. does.

      • 0 avatar

        @ect—Let’s just say that President Donald Trump is A LOT SMARTER than you. How many people have YOU ever employed ? How many corporations have you run ? Trump is the ONLY person at this time who can handle the gigantic financial and fraudulent mess that has been created over the past many decades.
        And yes, if it comes to that, he may have to oversee the bankruptcy and restructuring of the $21 Trillion national debt that started in 1913 with the creation of the “Federal” Reserve. It MAY be too large to ever pay back, unless he can find and recover the missing estimated $21 Trillion that was stolen from the U.S. government between 1998 and 2015. (See Catherine Austin Fitts).
        You should be praying for him. I am. Trade is only one of the huge problems that he is working on at this critical time.

  • avatar

    If a Chinese manufacturer wants to sell here let them try as they’relikely to have more pride in their homespun goods than being the lowest bidder for Americans, but I’m not about to buy an American branded vehicle made in China. I lost any interest I had in the Focus when they were still on the docket to be sold here and made in China; I’ve had two of the current generation an SE and an ST and always considered myself more of a Ford guy (if the choices were only the 3 from Detroit), but not anymore.

    Several years ago I bought a Kia, a car which I knew was Korean and which I knew was manufactured in Korea. It was relatively inexpensive ($14k IIRC) and I didn’t expect too much from it. Aside from a few niggles it was fine. I didn’t believe I was buying an American car and it was no surprise that it wasn’t made here.

    Buyers of these cars, who don’t necessarily read the online forums are probably buying thinking they’re supporting US workers, after all the big bow-tie means America and “from the heartland” or whatever their current tagline is. It’s a ruse. I recall years ago the strident guys driving their Mexican built Silverados with “Buy American” bumper stickers.

    Long story short: if a foreign brand builds a car at home and tries to sell it here I’m fine with it. If that company tries to build here and sell here, I’m fine with it. The big 3 deciding to source from a “developing” nation strictly because it’s cheaper and because they have failed to make the case that their vehicles are competitive at prices they would charge for using American labour for whatever the reason is nonsense.

    Full disclosure: I have a Canadian Buick and a Japanese Mazda. I bought the Buick very used and none of the money made it back to GM.

    • 0 avatar

      If carmakers want to sell Chinese cars here, let them MAKE Chinese cars here. Like THATS ever going to happen…LOL
      And I include GM, Ford, and FCA in that..

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