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By James M. Amend - WardsAuto.com, May 28, 2010

SAN DIEGO, CA – Buick Marketing Manager Roger McCormack says dealers have delivered more than 70 units of the new-for-’11 Regal sports sedan since sales began some two weeks ago, and he expects inventories to begin swelling by the end of June.

McCormack says Regal inventories should reach between 4,000 and 5,000 units by the end of June. Buick presently has 600 units on the ground in the U.S. but some 2,050 dealers to feed.

The cars are arriving in batches of 500 to 1,000, depending upon the vessel, to Newark, NJ; Brunswick, GA; and Port of Hueneme, CA.

GM decided to initially build the Opel Insignia-based Regal in Russelsheim, Germany, before starting production next year in Oshawa, ON, Canada. The move allows the auto maker to launch the car quickly, given the Regal’s future was on-again, off-again as GM went through bankruptcy last year.

The first batches from Germany will be restricted to models with GM’s 182-hp 2.4L 4-cyl. engine with gasoline direct-injection, a 2010 Ward’s 10 Best Engines winner in the Chevy Equinox cross/utility vehicle.

Shipments of models with a more spirited 220-hp 2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl. GDI motor are expected to arrive in the third quarter. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, although the turbo gets a 6-speed manual in the fourth quarter.

McCormack expects the naturally aspirated engine to command 60% of Regal sales.

The Regal GS, which Buick revealed at the Detroit auto show earlier this year with a 2.0L, 225-hp turbo engine making a whopping 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque, arrives next year.

The Regal marks an important addition to Buick’s portfolio. The LaCrosse, Lucerne and Enclave large CUV cover just 11% of the market for Buick, Ward’s data shows, but the Regal will push the brand to a 40% footprint.

The addition of a small CUV and compact car in the coming years will give Buick more than 50% coverage.

The Regal also provides the brand its first legitimate shot at building a “Buick garage,” McCormack says.

“An owner could have an Enclave as the vehicle he uses for the family and a Regal for commuting to work or taking his wife to dinner,” McCormack offers.

In a promising sign for the Regal, the first unit sold earlier this month was snapped up by a 44-year-old male manufacturing executive in suburban Chicago who also shopped a Toyota Camry and Audi A4 – exactly the customer Buick seeks for the car.

Even better, sources tell Ward’s the buyer paid $1,500 over sticker to get his hands on the Regal.

Source: Wards Auto
 
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