Yesterday came some praise for the United Autoworkers Union because of its part in steering Ford towards producing a much-hyped new generation of a well-known pickup and SUV in the United States.
Today, the union may have some negative influence on a GM plan to introduce a new, economical Buick CUV to the U.S. market.
Typically the union would be all for a new model, because it would employ people and keep factories moving. This Buick, though, wouldn’t be built in the United States. It would be built in (and imported from) China.
Back in August we reported about the possibility of a Chinese-built Buick Envision CUV being sold here. The UAW lashed out immediately. Cindy Estrada, UAW’s vice president in charge of GM talks, said:
After the sacrifices made by U.S. taxpayers and the U.S. workforce to make General Motors the profitable, quality company it is today, UAW members are disappointed with the tone-deaf speculation that the Envision would be imported from China.
That’s a pretty narrow-minded viewpoint that doesn’t take into account the extra profits GM could produce with this new vehicle–nor does it address the demand from the American market for a vehicle such as the Envision.
Last week came reports that GM will likely follow through on the plan.
A report from The Wall Street Journal suggests GM is targeting U.S. sales of 30,000-40,000 units annually after importing the Envision from China. If this happens, the crossover will be the first Chinese-built vehicle sold in the U.S. by any American automaker and will probably set a precedent for more. The Journal also reports that UAW leaders “appear to have come to an understanding” with GM, though there are no details about what that might entail.
I’ll make the argument that the average consumer in this country won’t ever know, or care, where the vehicle was manufactured. It will be sold on the same lot as any other Buick, the same dealer will service it, it’ll have the same warranty, and it will look similar to other Buicks. If people want it, and people buy it, what’s the problem with GM importing it?
I hope the Envision is offered here. It looks like a classy, affordable family vehicle that would be a great addition to the Buick stable.
Would you be interested in test driving a Chinese-manufactured Buick Envision?