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Buick Regal to be Built, Eventually, in Canada

GM makes good on loans from Canadian governments.

by on Nov.25, 2009

Only four cylinder engines and the highest trim level to start.

Only four cylinder engines and the highest trim level to start for the German Regal.

North American production of the all-new 2011 Buick Regal will start at the Oshawa Car Assembly plant beginning in Ontario during the first quarter of 2011.

Until then, a rebadged and recalibrated version of the Opel Insignia will be imported from Rüsselsheim, Germany starting in the second quarter of 2010.

The status of all Opel plants is uncertain today. GM continues to seek financing from European governments and concessions from union members for its loss-making subsidiary after its surprise decision not to sell Opel to Magna earlier this month.

GM maintains that it will keep the German plants open after large cutbacks in the workforce. An Opel plant in Belgium appears to be slated for closing under the latest plan. Almost $5 billion is thought to be required to restructure Opel and GM is only prepared (or able?) to front about 15% of that.

A Buick version of the car is already in production in China since last December, but GM says it has no plans to import Regal from the far east.

That could change quickly if Opel collapses, of course. GM reported a $1.2 billion loss in its latest quarter, the first one since it emerged from bankruptcy this past July. It is unclear if GM can continue to carry Opel for very long without billions of dollars in government assistance. The  private credit markets are unlikely to advance the ailing company any money without the government loan guarantees GM has been seeking.

The Regal is a mid-size sport sedan based on the award-winning Opel Insignia – the 2009 European Car of the Year. Whether such attributes can return potential buyers to North American showrooms where Buick is struggling remains to be seen. Year-to-date, U.S. Buick sales are down 33% in a market that is off 24%.  It is ironic that the brand long associated with Flint, Michigan, is now stronger in China than its home country.

Global View!

Global View!

“The new Regal gives Buick a modern performance sedan and its production here in Oshawa is terrific news for our employees, the CAW, dealers and suppliers,” says Arturo Elias, president, General Motors of Canada.

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First Look: The 2011 Buick Regal

Two four-cylinder sporty sedans coming from Buick via Opel.

by on Nov.12, 2009

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Regal will first be offered in premium CXL trim only. Other trim levels come in 2012.

Buick is taking an Opel Insignia sport sedan, adding the existing Chinese grille and Regal badges and bringing it to America during the second quarter of next year.

For the first 15 months of sale, Regal will be imported from Rüsselsheim, Germany, before a yet unspecified North American assembly site comes on stream.

There are no plans to import the Regal from China, where it is also currently made, with more than 64,000 in sales since production started last December.

Later today in Los Angeles, an estimated 600 Buick owners and potential customers culled from German and Japanese sport sedan owners will have the chance to test-drive the top of the line CXL versions of the mid-size car.

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With fenders flared to wrap around the tires, it’s a common look not used in recent Buicks.

The last time Buick tried this with a rebadged Saturn hybrid, reaction was so negative that Buick canceled the program it had just announced a fortnight or so before.

This time around – “kissing the dragon,” marketing slang for talking to breathing customers instead of idealized, fictional ones – might not be so bad since the Opel is universally acclaimed as a solid product.

So out in la-la land where GM is a mere footnote to sales tables, “intenders” will get a shot at the performance-oriented, front-wheel-drive CXL. They will test, what could be weeks or months  ahead of the media, a sport model with an optional 2-liter, direct injected four-cylinder engine that is said to provide more power than Japanese V6 engines in competitors.

Preliminary ratings here of 220 horsepower (164 kW) and 258 pound feet of torque should make this CSX a mid-seven-second zero-to-6o mph car. The 2.0L turbo uses a twin-scroll turbocharger that is said to build power quickly at lower rpms. Would they dare badge it Gran Sport, nailhead fans?

All these assertions await test drives to prove their veracity. However, previous personal experience with Jim Federico, the chief engineer on this program, who cheerfully explained the car to me, has shown that his predicted numbers are accurate. It’s too bad that this turbo option will not appear until late-summer 2010.

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