NEW YORK—General Motors plans to sell Chinese-made cars in the United States beginning early next year, a first for a major automaker, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
GM will introduce the Buick Envision, a midsize sport-utility vehicle made in Shandong province, the Journal said, citing unidentified people familiar with the plan.
The company initially intends to import between 30,000 and 40,000 Envisions to the U.S. market, where demand for gasoline-guzzling pickups and SUVs has been strong amid low fuel prices, the newspaper said.
The move would add a third SUV to Buick's lineup in the U.S., joining the Encore, built in South Korea, and the Enclave, built in Michigan.
"GM officials briefed on the plan say importing the Buick Envision would fill a gap in the brand's product line, and isn't a cost-saving measure," the Journal reported.
GM declined to comment on the Journal report.
GM shares lost 1.3% at $35.09 in a sharply lower market.
Buick is one of GM's most popular brands in China, where its sells roughly four times as many as in North America. But car sales are slowing in China, where GM has installed a huge production base over the past decade.
News of Chinese-made GM imports to the U.S. would likely rile the United Auto Workers union, the newspaper said.
In August, as speculation built that GM would import cars from China to the U.S., Cindy Estrada, vice president of the UAW's General Motors department, told the Detroit Free Press:
"After the sacrifices made by U.S. taxpayers and the U.S. workforce to make General Motors the profitable quality company it is today, UAW members are disappointed with the tone-deaf speculation that the Envision would be imported from China. GM should stand by its declaration that it will build where it sells."
The UAW has agreed a tentative four-year labor contract with GM and is pushing members to ratify it. The union reported last Friday that so far 55.4% had voted for the agreement and 44.6% opposed it.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015