Speculation Confirmed: Kiss the Buick Regal Goodbye
The coming year isn’t just the first chapter in a new decade, it will also be the final year you’ll be able to purchase a new Buick Regal. For that matter, it’s the last year you’ll be able to buy a Buick car.
Confirmed by a brand spokesman, the 2020 model year will be the midsize Regal’s last in the North American market.
Built in Germany by former General Motors property Opel, the current-generation Regal appeared for the 2018 model year, offered in fastback-styled Sportback and brawny TourX wagon guise.
After Opel (now in the hands of Groupe PSA) revealed changes to the Opel Insignia for 2020, Buick confirmed to Motor Authority that the coming model year will be the model’s last — at least in North America.
“Buick continues to be ahead of the consumer shift toward SUVs. In fact, nearly 90 percent of Buick sales to date this year have been crossovers,” said Stuart Fowle, communications manager for the Buick and GMC brands. “Although the Regal will no longer be offered in the U.S. and Canada, it will be sold in China where demand for sedans remains significant.”
Chinese-market Regals are built locally via Shanghai GM (SGM), a joint venture between GM China and its Chinese partner, SAIC. In that market, the model is offered as a pure sedan, rather than a liftback. A GS version ups the model’s looks, but not its horsepower.
Given China’s affection for the American brand, Regal sales in that country vastly outpace the model’s U.S. volume. American Regal sales by the end of September? 8,849. In China? 82,552.
While the Regal’s revamped looks and choice of bodystyles initially buoyed the Regal’s flagging sales in the U.S., it didn’t deliver the kind of volume GM might have hoped for. This year saw Regal sales fall 19.6 percent through the end of September. The only alteration to the model for the 2019 model year was the addition of a luxed-up Avenir variant (seen below).
It was long expected that the Opel sale would one day see Regal imports dry up. Earlier this year the brand dropped its fast-falling LaCrosse full-size sedan from the roster at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant and discontinued the oveases-built Cascada convertible, making the Regal its soul passenger car offering. Now, that model has just a year to live.
Again, it’s not unexpected. Buick utility models like the Encore, Envision, and Enclave are up 6 percent, 10 percent, and 16 percent, respectively, through September, and there’s a tweener Encore GX on the way to capture additional buyers in the low-priced space.
From three cars to zero in the space of a year, making Buick a utility vehicle-only brand.
A sign of the times.
[Images: Tim Healey/TTAC, General Motors]
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