Blog: Buick Astra for the US?
Graeme Roberts | 20 May 2011
Astra-based Buick Excelle XT made its debut at the 2009 Guangzhou show
Reports are doing the rounds in the US, citing GM sources, that Buick may put its badge on the three-door Astra due out in Europe this autumn. You may recall the previous Astra - five-door - had a short stint across the Atlantic as a Saturn before the 'import fighter' brand was axed in the GM restructure.
The Saturn Astra was too highly priced Stateside due to a poor euro/dollar exchange rate so, if Buick does say "we'll take it", will it be built in the US - Ford does the European Focus in Michigan and the Fiesta in Mexico?
Buick has only just brought Regal production to North America, having transplanted the Opel Insignia clone from Russelsheim, Germany, to Oshawa, Canada. GM Korea's Chevy Cruze is now made in Ohio and the imported Aveo subcompact starter model is soon to be replaced by the US-built Sonic.
If Buick does rebadge a new generation Astra, it won't be a first. Go to China and you'll see Buick-badged five-door versions on the streets of Shanghai, home to GM's joint venture with SAIC which now sells more Buicks there than the brand does in the US.
The Chinese version has Buick's current signature 'waterfall' grille and is called the Excelle XT. There's also a locally developed sedan version; that had to be designed in-house as Opel didn't do one when it revamped the Astra in 2009.
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...