The China Syndrome - 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo Long-Term Road Test

2011 Buick Regal Long Term Road Test

2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo: The China Syndrome

July 27, 2011


Try as I might, I can’t imagine our Buick Regal in China. I know that Buick has sold more than 3 million cars in China since 1999, but I can’t picture that classic American grille on the streets of Shanghai.

But my friend Michael Ellis got my head straight. He’s a principal partner in 5 Design , a pretty snappy architecture firm in Los Angeles that does commercial work throughout China. Ellis spends about two weeks every month there and just got back from visiting projects in Dongguan, Jinan, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Zibo.

Basically I’ve got to stop imagining the Regal parked in front of some tacky American chop suey restaurant from the 1950s. Because China isn’t like that, Ellis reminds me.

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Ellis and his firm have done business throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, and he says that China is the one country in the world that most reminds him of the U.S. He finds parallels in China’s immense size and geographical diversity, and even the way the country faces on a broad ocean, which allows it to project its economic influence in many directions. Even China’s cultural diversity reminds him of the U.S., not to mention the population’s barely disguised contempt for government in all forms. And finally China’s enormous construction boom in public works makes Ellis think of America in the 1950s.

But the big thing is, newly constructed private residences in China look like Orange County, California. These are very exclusive and expensive houses, of course, and yet there you are -- even China has suburbs. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that Buick’s product plan for China calls for cars with European engine and suspension calibrations combined with the latest in American connectivity electronics.

All this makes me think that maybe the reasons Buick seems to be gaining such ground in China might have to do with exactly the same reasons it’s gaining ground here. Not that I know what those reasons are.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 9,557 miles

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