By on June 5, 2019

Image: GM

Pity the poor Buick Envision. As one of the few Chinese-built vehicles sold in America, it earned an unpatriotic stigma upon its arrival. There’s no word on how many UAW workers own one. Meanwhile, the compact crossover launched partway through the 2016 model year with only high-end trims in tow, saddling it with a steep starting price. The entry price has since declined to saner levels.

Just when Buick thought it had righted the Envision ship, the U.S. hiked tariffs on a slew of Chinese goods to 25 percent last July, suddenly making the Envision a less profitable endeavor for the doctor’s car brand. As we learned today, General Motors’ appeal for mercy apparently fell on deaf ears.

As reported by CNBC, the Trump administration denied an exemption request filed by GM immediately following the tariff hike. The unhappy news came via a letter sent late last month from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office

In it, GM was told the Envision is “a product strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or other Chinese industrial programs.”

With its request denied, GM will be forced to continue eating the tariff, as the automaker chose not to raise the Envision’s price to offset the levy. In fact, Envision prices fell for 2019. GM did, however, decide to stop importing the plug-in hybrid variant of Cadillac’s CT6. Announced last November, the Chinese-built CT6 Plug-in disappeared from the U.S. lineup for 2019, though it’s still available to buyers in its home country. Unlike the CT6 Plug-in, the Envision has both volume and segment importance going for it.

Facelifted for the 2019 model year and carrying a nine-speed automatic on upper, turbocharged trims, the Envision range starts under $35,000 (after destination) for a base, front-drive model. Incentives are available, with Buick currently listing the cheapest model at $31,995 before destination.

In the first quarter of 2019, Envision sales fell 21.4 percent in the United States.

[Image: General Motors]

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46 Comments on “U.S. to GM: Sorry, Pay Your Buick Envision Tax...”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    GM never envisioned these tariffs.

  • avatar

    The Envision was always a cash grab. $35k for a FWD with a 2.5L 4 cylinder – made in China?? When you can get the German built turbo AWD Regal TourX for $30k. How does that make any sense at all?

  • avatar

    I’m surprised there is enough margins baked in here to swallow a 25% tariff.
    Although I guess it is a $30K+ Cruze wagon built by people earning $4/hr(?) within a government surveillance-state so who knows?

  • avatar

    When the tariff was first imposed, GM said, publicly, that it might stop importing the Envision without the tariff waiver. GM has probably been eating the tariff in anticipation of receiving the waiver. Now that the waiver has been refused. that could be the end of the Envision

    Meanwhile, the administration has threatened tariffs on Korean products. The best selling Buick, the Encore, and the new Encore GX, are both built in Korea.

    Meanwhile, the POTUS set a 6 month extension to decide whether German cars “threaten national security”. The Buick Regal is built in Germany.

    Buick already announced the Cascada dies at the end of this model year.

    Production of the Lacrosse ended in April.

    So, could Buick survive with only the Enclave?

  • avatar

    If GM would build all the higher margin C/SUV’s here instead of Korea, China and Mexico maybe they wouldn’t have to close so many assembly plants.

    • 0 avatar

      I was going to scoff at Envision sales but in 2017 they sold 40,000 of them… in 2018 30,000.

      Regal (Sportback/GS/TourX combined) sold 14,000 last year.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It’s working as intended.

    • 0 avatar

      Correct. This was EXACTLY the kind of product Trump was envisioning when he created this tariff. The only news is that GM didn’t understand that.

      • 0 avatar

        Intended as in: create uncertainty for American businesses and make it impossible for them to plan ahead?

        • 0 avatar

          I wasn’t trying to start a pro / con thread on tariffs. There are plenty of those.

          Trump made it clear what he was going after. The Envision fits that perfectly. GM was foolish to not see this coming.

  • avatar

    “In it, GM was told the Envision is “a product strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or other Chinese industrial programs.””

    What the hell is this?

    If this is what I believe it is from the name, then screw GM for putting another countries missions on its plate while it’s home market suffers from shuttered plants.

    I only wish GMs entire product line was levied an additional 25% tax.

    • 0 avatar

      No, I think the US Trade Representative’s letter to GM said that the US government is specifically targeting those strategic products that China put in its 2025 plan. In other words, they basically told GM, “This vehicle of yours represents exactly what we want to discourage, and your exemption has a snowball’s chance in Shanghai.”

      • 0 avatar

        “…the US government is specifically targeting those strategic products that China put in its 2025 plan.”

        My sense is “China 2025” is an excuse, just as the immigrant influx is an excuse to break NAFTA II, before it’s even ratified, and impose tariffs on Mexican cars. For German cars, the excuse is “a threat to national security”.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s an excuse for what precisely, you seem purposely vague. Why anyone other than auto CEOs would want Chinese built cars should be a mystery. Same holds true for Mexican built components and cars.

  • avatar

    Ford killed the plan for the Focus Active here in the US due to the tariffs. If GM was counting on the waiver, the Envision may follow. GM and Ford can afford to build full size trucks and most of their SUVs in the US due to the profit margins baked into these vehicles. But the threatened Mexico tariffs will be a nightmare for most manufactures due to not only vehicle assembly but subsystem assembly and parts. We keep reading that escalating prices are putting downward pressure on vehicle sales in the same way that the materials and labor markets do. Adding tariffs will add more pressure but “Made in the USA” is not necessarily a viable solution.

    • 0 avatar

      “Ford killed the plan for the Focus Active here in the US due to the tariffs.”

      My sense is Ford used the tariffs as an excuse. The new Escape looks so much like a lifted Focus that the Focus Active would have been redundant.

  • avatar

    If consumers don’t understand not to buy Chinese, Trump will help them

  • avatar

    I’ve seen a grand total of two Envisions here in Los Angeles. Both were retail models and not rentals; I’ll give them that.

    With Encore GX coming, maybe they can get rid of Envision. Nobody will miss it.

  • avatar


    I understand the economic arguments of free trade. Yet somehow it doesn’t seem to be working out for the average American, Mexican, or Chinese person. Tariffs one way but not the other. Also not free trade. Dumping everything you want into the air and water? Not free trade. Slave labor? Not free trade.

    So now we might not get a junky Chinese made over priced CUV? Or we won’t get a Cadillac….made in China?

    I’m so sad.

    • 0 avatar

      ” Yet somehow it doesn’t seem to be working out for the average American, Mexican, or Chinese person. ”

      It has crossed my mind that, as they say “all politics is local”, Trump might be trying to force GM into increasing production in US plants. Pull the Trax and Encore out of Mexico and Korea and put them in Orion Township where their Sonic platformmate is built. Pull the Equinox tooling out of Mexico and send it to Lordstown. He would be a hero to the Lordstown workers, the city of Lordstown and to Ohio, one of the swing states that put him in office in 2016.

      If the US market Trax, Encore and Encore GS were built in the US, GM Korea would probably be shut down, but Korean autoworkers don’t vote for POTUS. If Equinox and Terrain were pulled out of Mexico and shifted to Lordstown and/or D-Ham, a lot of Mexican autoworkers would be out of work too, but they don’t vote for POTUS either.

      Of course, then there would be tens of thousands of Mexican ex-autoworkers trying to get across the border to the US.

      • 0 avatar

        This was my thought, too, that Trump is trying to put up enough barriers to drag not just GM but also Ford, FCA, Harley-Davidson, et al kicking and screaming back to domestic production.

        It’s quite a gambit. If it pays off it will create some new class divides in the short term pitting auto workers against farmers who are going to bear the brunt of the trade war until a new equilibrium is established.

  • avatar
    I Stole Your Cookies

    I’m glad Trump is finally playing hardball with China. Between manipulating its currency, cheating on trade deals, subsidizing many of China’s industries to undercut the rest of the world, stealing intellectual properties…the list goes on. For years we’ve watched US companies wave buh-bye to US workers while raking in record profits using poverty wage workers abroad. And for decades our politicians high-fived them pumping their fists screaming ‘free trade’! China is always #1 for China and its workers…time for us to be that way.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I can see a Chinese manufacturer offering a knockoff brand called Bruick. The Chinese don’t have to steal the plans since they already make Buicks

    • 0 avatar

      Kind of like those Honwell remote cabinet lights I bought off Amazon and had to send back recently because four of the six didn’t even work!

      Glad to see I’m not the only one not feeling sorry for GM. I paid a lot of money in taxes to bail them out, and not to build NA market vehicles in China

  • avatar

    In Canada, the Envision hardly sells. So far this year, 1000 seniors who did’t know any better have purchased one. This is despite both: an aggressive marketing campaign and almost $10 000 on the hood of every model. At sticker, they are the same price as an Audi Q5 or Acura RDX – sorry Buick, not happening.

  • avatar

    These tarrifs are a disaster for consumers. Past week I bought two 10′ lengths of 2 inch rigid steel conduit….$120!!!! Trump go F yourself. Great sign on protest in Britan “All in All the Prick Has no Wall” Roger Waters must be pleased!!!

  • avatar

    Mary Barra lost Trump’s good will when she closed the Cruze plant.

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