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Buick is now an all-SUV brand as Regal production ends

An era draws to a close as GM's premium brand transitions away from passenger cars entirely in the US and Canada.

2019 Buick Regal Avenir
Even a sporty GS trim couldn't help Buick's Regal stave off the grim reaper.

North America's Buick Regal Sportback and Buick Regal TourX wagon are no more, and with the demise of these models, the brand's transition to an all-SUV marque is complete. Back in December, General Motors officials confirmed that 2020 would be the pair's last model years in the US and Canadian markets. With an ample supply of five-door hatchbacks and lifted wagons to carry Buick through the rest of the year, a GM spokesperson has confirmed to Roadshow that production in Rüsselsheim, Germany has ceased.

Despite generally positive reviews, there are numerous reasons for the seemingly premature end of this still rather new Regal design (the sixth-generation model only went on sale in 2018). Revived in 2005 after being dormant for many years, Buick's Regal nameplate saw its sales peak in 2011. According to industry sales watchdog GoodCarBadCar, the model reached a modest 40,000 units before tumbling to just over 10,000 units last year, precoronavirus.

Complicating the situation was that NA production has more recently been handled under contract by the PSA Groupe, the French automotive conglomerate that bought GM's Opel brand in 2017 for $2.3 billion. The Regal -- a close relation of the Opel Insignia -- was built under license from 2017 at the Opel factory. Production in Germany is expensive to begin with, and GM was almost certainly not making money on these models with such small sales numbers.

While Buick NA's transition to 100% SUVs -- crossover SUVs, more specifically -- may seem somewhat shocking to the casual observer, the move follows both brand and industry trends. For years, Buick's sales have been led not by traditional sedans and other passenger-car body styles, but instead by car-like SUVs, including the subcompact Encore and three-row Enclave

"Buick continues to be ahead of the consumer shift toward SUVs," GM spokesperson Chad Lyons said. "In fact, nearly 90% of Buick's 2019 sales were crossovers, and our sales have outpaced key competitors including Lincoln, Acura and Infiniti."

GM will continue Buick Regal Sportback production in Shanghai, where the recently face-lifted model has enjoyed greater popularity (not unlike the Buick brand itself). The Regal has been built in China since 1999.

GM isn't the only US automaker moving away from sedans. On Wednesday Ford discontinued production of its Fusion sedan for the US, although it still makes a version of the car for other territories.

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