Chinese-built crossovers have arrived at Buick showrooms

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FLINT (WJRT) - (11/15/16) - Does it matter to car buyers where their car was made? Buick is gambling it doesn't.

The Envision and the Cascada are new to Buick showrooms. The Envision is built in China and the Cascada comes from Poland. Buick is becoming the GM division with an international flair.

The Envision is about the same size as the Chevy Equinox. It's GM's first vehicle sold in the U.S. that is assembled in China. Only two percent of the parts come from the U.S. or Canada. The Cascada is a convertible built in Poland by GM's subsidiary Opel.

"People are going to have a perception that they want an American-made vehicle. When they find out they're built in Poland or China, that could be a little bit of an obstacle, but as far as quality, that's not going to be an issue at all," said Mark Zyber, a sales representative at Suski Chevrolet-Buick in Birch Run.

Zyber says GM would not import these vehicles if the quality was substandard.

"These vehicles are very, very well built," Zyber said.

The international tone at the dealership expands the customer base. The Buick Encore is assembled in South Korea.

"We've got a vehicle out here now for everyone in the Buick line up," Zyber said.

GM is betting that most customers don't care where their car was made.

"I think the typical U.S. car buyer is unaware precisely where his vehicle was made, whether it's in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South Korea. We already import lots of car under U.S. brand names right now from other countries so I think import from China would be no different," said Chris Douglas, associate professor of economics at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Douglas believes it wouldn't be worth it for GM to build a factory in the U.S. for Envision production.

"From a business standpoint, it probably makes sense just to use Chinese production capacity to meet U.S. demand for that particular vehicle," Douglas said.

Ford just announced it will import a subcompact crossover that is built in India starting in 2018.

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