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Car Shoppers Ready for “Made in China” Label, Automakers Say

Car Shoppers Ready for "Made in China" Label, Automakers Say

DETROIT – Car shoppers are ready to accept vehicles with the “Made in China” label, Buick and Volvo tell Edmunds.

The 2016 Buick Envision compact SUV and the Volvo S60 Inscription extended-wheelbase sedan are among the first mass-market vehicles to be sold in the United States from factories in China.

The deployment is a bit under the radar, since those vehicles bear names already familiar to American consumers. Chinese car companies such as BYD and Great Wall have not yet marketed vehicles here, nor has Geely, the Chinese parent of Volvo.

In addition, the Envision and S60 Inscription are not low-priced, entry-level models, but premium vehicles.

The 2016 Envision will arrive at Buick dealerships next summer, following a North American debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.

The five-passenger Envision, which slots in between the subcompact Buick Encore and three-row Buick Enclave, will boost Buick’s SUV portfolio.

Buick said it will be priced in line with SUV competitors including the Acura RDX and Lincoln MKC.

The S60 Inscription is an extended-wheelbase model developed for the Chinese market where owners are typically chauffeured and extra rear seat legroom is of prime importance. Here in the United States it is aimed at buyers who desire more rear-seat legroom than what is offered by competitors like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The China-made Inscription started arriving at Volvo showrooms in August. Volvo said it sold about 14,200 S60s in the United States through November. About 1,000 of those were Inscriptions.

Buick and Volvo are quick to point out that the cars are “assembled” in China, with much of the technical work done elsewhere.

Volvo engineered the S60 Inscription in Sweden, while General Motors developed the Envision at its technical center in Warren, Michigan.

Edmunds senior analyst Ivan Drury is confident the Envision and S60 Inscription will be successful here.

“We know both automakers have had surveys, polls, focus groups in which they asked people outright, ‘Are they averse to this,'” Drury said. The fact that the vehicles are being launched indicates consumer acceptance, he added.

Buick spokesman Nick Richards confirmed that the automaker checked with consumers before proceeding with the Envision launch.

“This is something that we don’t think consumers are concerned about, where something is produced,” Richards said. “We think they are more concerned about the quality of the vehicle, how it handles, how it fits their needs.”

Volvo Cars of North America spokesman Russell Datz echoed that sentiment.

“It has not been an issue with our dealers or customers,” Datz said. “A Volvo is a Volvo no matter where it is built. It is built to the same quality standards, the same safety standards and it is not anything people are asking about.”

The UAW is the most vocal critic of GM importing a Buick crossover from China, calling it a “slap in the face to U.S. taxpayers and the men and women who worked so hard to save GM during its darkest time.”

Edmunds says: Will consumers object to cars built in China? Judging by how many products they already happily buy with “Made in China” stickers, we doubt it.

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