| DETROIT, April 4
DETROIT, April 4 General Motors Co on
Tuesday unveiled a German-made Buick crossover wagon it plans to
sell in the United States, and in so doing highlighted the U.S.
auto industry's vulnerability to shifting trade politics.
The Buick Regal TourX, scheduled to launch later this year
in the United States, is aimed at imported all-wheel drive
vehicles such as those offered by Subaru and Zhejiang Geely
Holding's Volvo Cars.
In a plan mapped out long before the Trump administration
and Congress began talking about taxing imported goods, GM
planned to build the TourX at a factory in Ruesselsheim,
Germany, near Frankfurt.
Asked how a potential "border tax" on imported goods could
affect the TourX, GM product development chief Mark Reuss told
reporters that such a levy might hurt, but added: "I don't know
what the border tax is.
"How can you make a product plan based on something you
don't know?" he asked.
Reuss said GM is making plans to deal with a border tax,
which could affect not just the Regal TourX. GM imports a Buick
sport utility vehicle called the Envision from China, and has
electric vehicles it needs for the Chinese market that it
currently builds only in the United States. China levies steep
tariffs and taxes on imported vehicles.
In a separate interview, the head of GM's North American
operations said he is encouraged that President Donald Trump and
administration officials are listening as auto industry
executives explain the complex, global supply chains behind
their model lineups.
"It's too early to speculate, but we believe the new
administration is more aligned with us than different," said
Alan Batey, who runs GM's North American auto business and the
Chevrolet brand globally. There is "a very open and constant
dialogue" with administration officials, he said.
GM's chief executive, Mary Barra, is a member of an advisory
council to President Trump.
The TourX was one of two new Buick models the brand unveiled
at GM's design center in suburban Detroit. The other, the Regal
Sportback, offered an unusual hatch opening designed to give a
car that looks like a sporty coupe the functional utility of a
sport utility vehicle. The hatch allows a driver to load cargo
onto folded rear seats.
Some engineering and production of the Regal and the TourX
relied on GM's Opel operations, which are on track to be sold to
France's Peugeot SA. Reuss said that sale does not necessarily
mean the end of collaboration between Buick and the German Opel
"Opel is still doing some of our future models," he said.
(Reporting by Joe White; Editing by Dan Grebler)