Buick currently sells three vehicles that were originally conceived as Opels, and by the looks of things it's set to have more. Buick’s latest Encore, Regal and Verano models all share their underpinnings and most of their bodywork with models sold overseas as Opels (Vauxhalls if you’re in the U.K.), and so far this strategy of co-development between the two brands appears to be working for General Motors.
There’s been plenty of speculation that more Opel models could reach Buick showrooms here in the U.S., but the biggest indication yet that it may happen are recent comments from General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] CEO Dan Akerson.
Speaking at an investor conference, Akerson is reported to have said that Buick and Opel will become even more intertwined as GM attempts to make better use of its high-level yet costly engineering resources in Europe, namely, by spreading it across more brands.
GM's European unit has lost close to $18 billion since 1999 and was recently tied with another European automaker
, France's PSA Peugeot Citroen Group, to further streamline costs and increase synergies.
"What we're trying to do is bring together the product development teams much more closely," Akerson is quoted as saying by Automotive News
(subscription required). "There will be all sorts of synergies, I believe, between Opel-Vauxhall and Buick."
The commonality of models between Opel and Buick is also creating a pseudo global brand or a “hybrid global brand” as Akerson describes it, since Buicks and Opels (and Vauxhalls) are now sold on a handful of continents around the world.
But deciding which additional models to share across the brands is proving to be sticking point for planners. Some of the possibilities that have been making headlines include a new Buick Regal Sport Wagon
based on the Opel Insignia Sports Tourer
, a new Buick convertible based on the Opel Cascada
, and a new Buick hatchback
based on the Opel Astra GTC
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