Buick Regal Refresh on the Way, With an Asterisk
It’s just the news you needed to perk up a boring Monday. Buick’s Regal, which carries a variety of badges overseas, could see a facelift in the near future, leaked images reveal. Dutch website Autoweek.nl (via Motor Authority) has the pictures, with the decidedly brown model depicted therein bound for the Chinese market.
China, as you well know, loves Buicks like the NBA loves revenue.
While the China-bound Regal’s design alterations will no doubt carry over, in some form, to vehicles found in other markets, just how long buyers in America will have access to the model remains an open question.
As before, the Regal’s origins lie in the German-built Opel Insignia, with the current generation going on sale for the 2018 model year. Arriving as a five-door liftback and off-road-themed TourX wagon, the Regal is not accumulating sales in the same manner as Buick’s crossover lineup.
As you can see here, one crossover, the China-built Envision, seems to have had the biggest influence on the Regal’s design refresh. It’s seen in the revised headlight shape and front fascia. Out back, the bumper gets a redo, with slim, elongated exhaust ports. Here’s a U.S.-market 2019 Regal Avenir model for comparison:
While Chinese customers get a bonafide sedan version with trunklid and all, American customers receive the Regal Sportback for hatchback versatility and the marketing opportunities that come with.
North American buyers can thank a production contract for their ability to continue to get their hands on a Buick-badged Opel, despite the company being sold off by General Motors a couple of years ago. France’s PSA Groupe now holds the reins.
Still, the model’s future beyond 2020 remains uncertain, with Automotive News‘ Product Pipeline listing shrinking domestic sales and a production cut at the Insignia/Regal plant as reasons why Buick could ditch “the nameplate sooner rather than later.”
Regal sales in the U.S. are down 19.6 percent through the end of September, a marked trajectory change compared to other models in the brand’s lineup. Overall, Buick sales have risen 1.4 percent since the start of the year. The nameplate was already in trouble when the previous-gen model was on sale. The market’s distaste for traditional sedans became increasingly obvious as time wore on, with 2017 returning the model’s worst full-year volume in decades (barring those recession-era years where the Regal was nonexistent).
Over 74,000 American buyers took a Regal home in 1999, but in the first three quarters of 2019, Regal volume stands at just 8,849. That’s not far off the volume of the LaCrosse, a full-size sedan Buick pulled the plug on earlier this year.
[Image: General Motors, via Autoweek.nl]
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If I was a GM dealer, I would refuse to floor plan anything other than SUVs. It looks like that's what many Buick dealers are doing. There are so few Regal GS' available that even if you wanted to check it out, it's a 50-100 mile drive to do so. Assuming the car is good compared to the others like it - Stinger and Arteon - it would have a chance at selling. Maybe it's just the usual GM clap.
The same with the GMC Buick dealership near me. They have 1 Regal Tour x, a couple of Lacrosses but mostly Encores, Enclaves, and lots of GMCs especially Sierras.