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Is This Buick’s New Convertible?

GM offers tease of new Vauxhall Cascada.

by on Sep.07, 2012

The first new midsize convertible for Vauxhall since the 1930s might also become a new droptop in the Buick line-up.

There are some definite benefits to going global, especially if you’re a small brand long starved of product.  So is the case with Buick, which not all that long ago had to suffer through life with just three aging product lines but is now rapidly fleshing out its showroom.

And there are signs that the next model to come aboard will be a Buick droptop.

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That, at least is the speculation surrounding what will first appear in the form of the Vauxhall Cascada Convertible.  Though not scheduled for showing at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, General Motors is offering up a teaser image of the new droptop – perhaps to offset growing calls for the maker to sell off its money-losing Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary and show there really is a turnaround plan in place.

(For more on that story, Click Here.)

But why should Buick celebrate?

The Vauxhall Cascada will be slightly longer than an Audi A5 -- and like the German model, its top will operate at speeds up to 30 mph.

To understand one only has to look back at the years just before General Motors’ 2009 bankruptcy.  At one point, Buick had to get by with just three old models and many experts anticipated the brand would be among those abandoned following GM’s excursion through the Chapter 11 process.  Instead, Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Hummer were abandoned and Buick was given a new lease on life – in large part because it had proven such an unexpected success in China.

That meant fleshing out the line-up.  GM’s rapidly expanding design and engineering center in Shanghai took the lead in the development of the new LaCrosse.  But as part of its increasingly globalized product development process, GM also turned to Europe for other new Buick models, notably the smaller Regal, which has its roots in the Opel brand.

And that appears likely to happen again, according to reports in Autoblog and elsewhere, when Vauxhall gets its first midsize convertible since the 1930s.  The expectation is that Cascada will be shared with the Buick brand in the U.S. and very possibly in China.

Sharing sheet metal makes sense because it greatly increases a new products economies of scale – translating into lower production costs and very possibly a more acceptable sticker price.  Whether the Buick version would be built in the States, or is imported from Europe, remains to be seen, though producing the convertible in Euros would tag on a hefty cost premium.

For the moment, we’re only getting a few details about the Vauxhall Cascada out of GM.  A release from the U.K. suggests it is 4.7 meters in length, or roughly 15.5 feet, and 70 mm, or nearly three inches, longer than the Audi A5 Cabriolet.

Like its German rival, the roof on the new Vauxhall Cascada will be operable at speeds up to 30 mph.

The new convertible is just one of several new models expected to land in the Vauxhall – and sibling Opel – brands in the near future.  And none too soon, critics contend.  As reported yesterday, with GM’s European operations expected to lose close to $1.5 billion this year, marking the 13th consecutive annual loss, key analysts are calling on GM to get rid of that floundering operation.

(For more, Click Here.)

Launching successful new products such as Cascada, the Opel/Vauxhall ADAM and Mokka would be essential if GM expects to hang on to the brands.

“Cascada, along with ADAM and Mokka, will bring a fresh and exciting dimension to our product line-up for customers,” contends Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director, Duncan Aldred. “This year is genuinely a new chapter in Vauxhall’s long history, and I’m pleased that we’re able to enter the mid-size convertible sector with Cascada, and continue to refresh people’s perception of our great brand.”

Meaning “waterfall,” in Spanish, the Cascada is expected to reach Vauxhall showrooms in 2013.  A Buick version could follow soon after.

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