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GM's Chinese Import CUV a PR Nightmare? Or Will People Even Notice?

4497 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  vic1212

Have you heard? GM is going to be the very first American auto mobile manufacturer to sell a vehicle in the US that is imported from China, that would be the Buick Envision. Many would say that is not something to be proud of though.

In fact, there are plenty of articles that discuss the impending PR nightmare that GM is marching towards. Looking at some of the circumstances one can understand why such opinions exist.

GM was bailed out by the American tax payers in 2008 during the financial crisis. Many believe that the company owes an everlasting debt to the country now. It should go above and beyond to invest in the American worker, the American taxpayer, just like the government did for GM when it was in its time of need.

Furthermore, GM just finished signing a new labor agreement that had the effect of raising the company's labor costs in the US. Shortly after signing said agreement, GM announced that the Envision would be imported to the US from China. Guess signing a new labor agreement that includes living wages doesn't work out so well if the company then just chooses to move production somewhere else where it's cheaper.

According to The Wall Street Journal, GM officials have said that this decision was made as a way to “fill a gap in the brand’s product line.” While this could be the case, their plan was made public only weeks after the union contract agreement. Whether this move was just bad timing or GM’s response to the new contract, there’s a big chance that this could bring bad PR to the company in the near future.
I'm not convinced that this will be a big deal though. Auto journalists may spend some time discussing it, but the average car buyer doesn't really care where their car comes from, nor do they even care to enquire about where it is produced. Instead, they associate brands with America. "Ford? Must be American."

Furthermore, even factories in the US source parts from all over the world before the final assembly takes place. For example, the Ford F-150 is assembled in Michigan and Missouri, but less than 75 % of the parts are actually sourced from the US. In actuality, the most American car you can buy right now is the Toyota Camry, which is assembled in Georgetown, Ky.

The only way I think this will actually become an issue for GM is if Donald Trump decides to call them out on "shipping jobs overseas" publicly. He has criticized Ford for similar practices during his campaign already.

Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump threatened Ford Motor Co. with punitive taxes if the Dearborn automaker proceeds with a new $2.5 billion Mexican plant that will “take away thousands” of U.S. jobs.
I wouldn't put anything past the Trump, but unless he decides to bring particular attention to this issue, I just don't think the average car buyer will really take notice.
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I'm sure the Buick Envision will do fine as long as it scores very well in the safety tests. I think one of the previous hurdles they failed was the safety test, one model from China scored around a 2 out of 5 in the NCAP.
I did read that the Envision was was designed and engineered in the US, and a lot of testing was done in Detroit. not sur eif people care one way or the other about that detail, but it's worth pointing out.
As long as the vehicle is positioned properly within its segment they shouldn't have a problem, they might however end up losing a small portion of buyers that are passionate about American built American brand vehicles.
A small percentage of customers that Buick can make back if the Envision is priced properly. I'll still wait a year before getting one as that's a general time frame for things in a new car to go wrong.
Let's pretend that there are a small number of customers that Buick loses because of manufacturing in China. Those customers are people who would buy the Envision, but are also astutely aware and passionate about domestic manufacturing and globalization. So much so, that the Chinese manufacturing of the Envision is enough to steer them away from the vehicle, even though they like it better than everything else. OK, so these are the people that Buick has lost as customers.

At the same time, Buick chose to manufacture the Envision in China because it was cost efficient. That allows them to price the vehicle lower, and also to have a higher profit margin. Manufacturing in the US (or some other non-China place) would likely make the price of the vehicle rise and also eat into profit margins.


If moving manufacturing might prevent Buick from losing the small number of customers I outlined at the beginning of this post, that benefit would not be greater than the loss of profit and the number of buyers who are priced out of the market due to moving manufacturing outside of China.
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2017 Envision

Purchased a 2017 Envision, but being imported from China does bother me somewhat.
Just didn't want to wait until the 2018 redesigned Terrain hit the market.
Envision is a great vehicle hopefully in the future GM starts to make them domestically.
Purchased a 2017 Envision, but being imported from China does bother me somewhat.
Just didn't want to wait until the 2018 redesigned Terrain hit the market.
Envision is a great vehicle hopefully in the future GM starts to make them domestically.
What about it being imported from China bothers you ??
Honestly for me I just really didn't care where a car it's built as long as the quality look good then I'm set. Now there are people that say I don't care because I'm Asian but that won't stop me. I really just hate buying appliances or buy cars based on politics. I mean it's a free country, so there shouldn't be a option of being judged. At the end of the day, you buy what you like. Just my 2 cents.
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