By on August 3, 2018

Image: GM China

General Motors wants an exemption from a 25 percent U.S. tariff for the Buick Envision, the Chinese-made sport utility positioned between the Encore and Enclave. On Thursday, the automaker said it filed the request on July 30th with the U.S. Trade Representative to exclude the model from the prospective Section 301 tariff on products shipped from China.

The Envision hasn’t been a strong seller in the United States. While it managed to move 41,040 units in 2017, this year is not on track to meet that number. Obviously, the model has had some troubles. Early reviews were unfavorable, often accusing the Envision of being a faux luxury vehicle with an overly ambitious price tag. However, the manufacturer has since dropped the price and updated the vehicle for the 2019 model year.

Unfortunately, enough damage was dealt in those first two years to make the new model look less appetizing to customers. It now holds the stigma of an overpriced, Chinese-made compact crossover that falls short just about everywhere. It needs time to rebuild its image after the refresh, and it won’t be able to manage that if it is taxed into oblivion. 

According to Reuters, GM stated in its request that Envision sales in China and the United States would generate funds “to invest in our U.S. manufacturing facilities and to develop the next generation of automotive technology in the United States.”

We don’t know about those U.S. sales, but Buick moves a lot of metal in China, where this whole problem originated. General Motors established production sites in The People’s Republic to great success. Buick’s vehicles sell fabulously well in that country, and building them there is really the only way to make that happen — the nation employs strict laws mandating local partnerships and imposes high tariffs on imported vehicles. It recently raised those tariffs to a whopping 40 percent, more than enough to cripple any imported model’s chances of being a sales success.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is working on a response as the trade war between the two nations continues to evolve. But the Envision doesn’t sell well enough domestically to rationalize building it here. Buick will be lucky if it sells 35,000 of them in America by the end of 2018, but it can comfortably count on six-figure volume in China.

What happens if GM doesn’t get its exemption? That’s anybody’s guess. While the media and automakers constantly talk about the looming threat of new tariffs forcing up the price of automobiles by thousands of dollars, that’s not exactly what we’ve seen occur. BMW indicated its willingness to absorb some of the financial impact after China escalated tariffs, while Ford stated it will not increase prices in Asia at all, as it doesn’t want to further hamper its ability to do business there.

While there’ll still be an impact on automakers and suppliers, consumers might not be as burdened as they’ve been led to believe. It’s also looking increasingly likely that the U.S. will focus specifically on tariffs for Chinese goods and leave other nations alone.

That said, there is no way new import duties won’t affect prices overall. Likewise, some models (possibly the Buick Envision) might simply stop being shipped over while automakers focus on higher volume models manufactured within America. At this point, however, GM hasn’t announced any plans to stop U.S. sales of the Envision or relocate production of U.S.-bound models to facilities outside of China.

[Image: General Motors China]

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32 Comments on “Get Out of China Free Card: GM Wants the Buick Envision to Get a Pass on Import Tariffs...”

  • avatar

    *logs in eighteen times and refreshes the page thirty-two times*

    Suck it GM, you reap what you sow. Take your Invasion and get it out of our market.

  • avatar

    My heart is pumping canal water for GM. On a clear day you can see Guangzhou.

  • avatar

    Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM) Strikes Again!

    Me So Horny (for cheap foreign labor & taxpayer bailouts by GM/Bruick)

    GM: “What’ll we get for ten cents on the dollars?”
    China: “Every ‘ting you want”
    GM: “Everything?”
    China: “Every ‘ting!”

    “Oh! Don’t do that, baby! Ah!”
    “Hold on this! Oh, sock it to me, Ah!”


    Ah, Me so horny
    Ah, Me so horny
    Ah, Me so horny
    Me love Bailout long time

  • avatar

    Ha! Good luck. The Envision is the poster child of everything Trump has been railing against for 2 years. No chance on an exemption. Being made in China but being sold at 1st world pricing should mean plenty of padding in the profits to eat the tariff.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I don’t particularly care that it’s Chinese-made. I have no issue with buying a Chinese-built car. But I don’t think it deserves a pardon, either. Like you said, it has few to no merits versus cheaper competitors on one end (including its own Equinox and Terrain siblings), or higher-end luxury-badged competitors on the other. And I doubt the Trump administration would pardon or exempt it anyway; it embodies their vitriol in a way that no other vehicle does.

    It isn’t a strong seller. Maybe this is the reset that GM needs to bring a more competitive compact Buick to the US market.

    • 0 avatar

      yeah, since there is zero outrage about the Turkish built Toyotas, Chinese built Volvos or the Indian built Fords, It would be hypocritical to only target the Envision just for country of origin unless they are trying to bypass the rules.

  • avatar

    Sorry…you decided to build it in China, now live with it. Maybe if it had been assembled in Lordstown or Orion TWP, you wouldn’t have to worry about it.

  • avatar

    For a country that prides itself on abolishing slavery, it’s fascinating to observe how, in the space of less than one generation, it has enriched it’s future adversary by letting products (albeit good ones) manufactured by enlightened slave-owners (the Communist Chinese Govt) flood into this country, displacing even more jobs, and filling the coffers of China with US dollars, which the Chinese have used to build their economy up, with the goal of one day NOT needing the US or anyone, and reasserting their rightful place in the world.

    On this one, the President has the right idea. Will it be painful? Yes, for consumers. But when you lose your job, you’re not consuming much, are you?

    If the patient (the USA) is very sick, radical surgery may be necessary.

    We live beyond our means. Budget deficits. Trade deficits (we need more stuff than we can make, apparently).

    Of course, the surgery could be fatal. But without it, will the illness (in this case, unfair trade with most everyone) might be fatal too.

    Interesting times we live in. And this magical little device lets us weigh in–thank you :)

    • 0 avatar

      Well said

    • 0 avatar

      The reality is is that we’ve become addicting to buying cheap junk we don’t need, instead of spending our hard earned money on quality things. We have whole stores devoted to cheap Chinese made junk for every season, NONE of which we really need. A good trade war will refocus our shopping habits on better quality, necessary items. The storage industry won’t like all of us having less crap to keep organized, but so be it.

      • 0 avatar

        And that place is Wal-Mart!

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly right. We hand money to China, they hand us a crappy doodad, we put crappy doodad in garbage. They wind up with a pile of money, we wind up with a pile of garbage.

      • 0 avatar

        But this is ‘MERIKA, dammit! MOAR is BETTER!

        Me, I’m too poor to buy cheap. I spend good money on stuff that will last me, and which will make me happy while it lasts.

        The trick is, don’t get tired of those things that are built to last. That $3000 couch? Learn to love it, and quit thinking you’re so tired of it you’ll just buy a $300 couch next time because you’ll only dump it after 2 years.

        And quit buying trash and trinkets. And electronics, for that matter.

  • avatar

    Isn’t this the same platform as the Cadillac XT5? It shouldn’t be that big of a deal to move production to the U.S.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      No. The Cadillac XT5 is on the mid/full-size C1XX platform, along with the GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Malibu, Buick Regal Sportback/TourX and upcoming Chevrolet Blazer. A stretched-wheelbase version of that architecture underpins the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse. An offshoot of that platform called P2XX also supports the new Buick LaCrosse.

      Meanwhile, the compact Buick Envision is on the smaller D2XX platform, alongside the Chevrolet Cruze, Volt and Equinox and GMC Terrain.

      Oddly, the compact Cadillac XT4 is actually on the C1XX platform. It’s the length of a typical compact crossover, but has a considerably wider stance thanks to the larger architecture. So it’s more or less a sawn-off XT5.

      But the other compact crossovers, including the Envision, are on D2XX and thus are unrelated to the XT5.

  • avatar

    More reasons not to buy it GM. Thanks for the tip

  • avatar

    GM doesn’t build this car, SAIC-GM builds it. That is a big omission from the article here. No, SAIC-GM should not get a break from the tariffs for importing this car to the US.

    This is the whole point of the tariffs, so Chinese firms cannot profit from cars in the USA, and SAIC is a Chinese company, as in SAIC-GM.

    No way they should get a break from tariffs for this imported pos.

    As I said before, GM is just making a huge mistake sharing the North America market with their Chinese partner. There is no real reason to do this.

  • avatar

    Wow, just wow. What a little weasel GM is. And what a slap in the face to Americans. Seriously, anybody who buys these Happily Made In China! vehicles from this worm of a company might want to think about expatriating. I honestly didnt think GM could sink any lower….

  • avatar

    Soon GM, you CHOICE to source that from China, and soon you will be sourcing the Buick Encore from China,, you moved production of the Chevy Equinox and Terrain from Canada and Tennessee to Mexico and decided to source the Chevy Cruze , Hatchback, Trax and now the new Blazer from Mexico while idling plants in Ohio and Michigan, you could have converted Orion to build the Encore and Trax since they use the same Gamma Platform as the Sonic.

    Converted Lordstown to build the Equinox and Terrain since they use the same platform as the Cruze, but no you decided to stab America, you also Build the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra in Mexico, I looked up the numbers, you export 80% of the lineup to the USA…too bad soo sad “Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors”.

  • avatar

    The tariff wall just got 10% taller.

    Any more requests, GM?

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    Every automaker should be aloud to import as many vehicles as it wants from China tariff free. As long as it exports an equal value of U.S. made vehicles to China.

  • avatar

    why is it OK to buy a car from Europe or Japan but not China?

  • avatar

    There is nothing wrong with any of those buying choices.

  • avatar

    Hilarious that TTAC thinks the Envision is a bad car just because they’re against GM and, apparently, Chinese made cars that are from anyone but Volvo.

    Even more hilarious is the fact that TTAC thinks 41K sales (in a luxury/near-luxury crossover segment) is a sales failure. Yeah… sure… The Envision is damaged goods. Ok, keep telling your 200 readers that, I guess.

    Even more hilarious: WordPress. Seriously, guys? “Legitimate” blogs still use WordPress?

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