Car Industry

GM asks feds to exclude Buick Envision SUV from Chinese tariffs

The company claims its sales volume cannot support local manufacture.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Every Buick Envision sold in the US is made in China, which is why GM petitioned the federal government to exclude that vehicle from tariffs levied against Chinese-built goods.

General Motors has formally petitioned the US government to exclude the Buick Envision SUV from Section 301 tariffs. And it's basing its stance on some pretty solid logic.

A 25-percent tariff would remove the Envision's ability to compete in the US market, which would have an immediate negative effect on its dealers and their workers.

Buick

The letter, which is posted on the regulation.gov website, lays out the case to prevent Buick's mid-size SUV from being slapped with tariffs that would make it much harder to sell. Price is a major factor -- the letter states that if the Envision were hit with a 25 percent duty, GM might nix the Envision's US presence altogether, otherwise it would be importing the vehicles at a loss.

You might ask, "So why don't they just make them here?" GM hits on that point, too, saying that the Envision's stateside sales volume does not justify moving production to the US. In addition, the Envision's lifecycle will end before the company could get things together to shift production from China to the US. The Envision is much more popular overseas -- in 2017, Buick sold approximately 41,000 Envisions in the US, while it sold about 210,000 in China.

GM isn't limiting its argument to numbers, either. It brings up an important point regarding competition. Its major competitors like Acura and Volvo all have mid-size luxury SUVs in the US, and forcing GM to shutter Envision imports would put the domestic automaker at a distinct disadvantage in the face of some strong foreign competition.

The letter points out that the tariffs are mainly targeting China's "Made in China 2025" strategy, which in terms of vehicles focuses on alternative-energy and autonomous vehicles. GM kindly reminds the government that the Envision incorporates neither of those technologies. In fact, money from the Envision sales directly benefits US operations and jobs, many of which are higher-paid technical positions.