DETROIT -- General Motors has OK'd the U.S. launch next summer for the Chinese-made Buick Envision compact crossover -- a model aimed at one of the U.S. market's largest product segments.
Buick chief Duncan Aldred on Thursday informed the Buick National Dealer Council of the move and on Friday announced it to the rest of the brand's U.S. retailers.
Dealers have been clamoring for GM to bring the Envision stateside even before the vehicle's August 2014 launch in China. GM will import the vehicle from China, which Automotive News reported in August as a likely outcome once the automaker had inked a new four-year labor contract with the UAW.
Aldred confirmed the decision in an interview last week.
"Talk about a catalyst for the Buick brand and for volume growth," Aldred said. "We're putting in what I believe is a class-leading vehicle in the heart of the U.S. auto industry. This is massive for Buick."
For the U.S., the Envision will be launched with a 252-hp, 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and stop-start system. It won't be sold with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that serves as the base motor in China.
Sales of the Envision -- named Motor Trend's SUV of the year in China -- have been on a tear there, on pace to hit around 140,000 in its first full year. Aldred said it has fast become Buick's "most important" vehicle in China.
The crossover is made by Shanghai GM, a joint venture between GM and SAIC Motor Corp., at a 3-year-old assembly plant in northeastern Shandong province.
It's the first vehicle to be built on GM's new global compact platform, which also will underpin the next generation of the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain, expected to go on sale in 2017.