Despite the negative stigma long associated with Chinese-built goods, we’ve grown used to — if not accepting of — the idea that some of our domestic vehicles might originate from a Chinese assembly plant. The Cadillac CT6 Plug-in, for example, hails from the Orient, as does all versions of the Buick Envision crossover. Volvo S90s sold in the U.S. also call China their birthplace.
Now, according to a 2019 model year VIN decoder document sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from General Motors, there’s two additional models that might carry Chinese heritage. Keep a lookout for a VIN starting with “L.”
According to the docs (H/T to Bozi Tatarevic), the subcompact Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore crossovers — two vehicles strongly associated with Korean production — both see a new plant location added to their VIN options, and it’s located in the People’s Republic of China.
Formerly, the Encore was produced exclusively at GM Korea’s Bupyeon assembly plant. Such models see a VIN starting with “K.” Most Trax models also hailed from this plant, though some of the vehicles shipped to U.S. dealers started their journey at GM’s San Luis Potosi plant in Mexico. These VINs begins with a “3.”
For the 2019 model year, the Dong Yue South plant joins the aforementioned assembly locations for both Trax and Encore. The facility, which builds a host of familiar vehicles for the Chinese market, is a joint operation between GM and SAIC Motor. The U.S.-bound Envision sees its assembly at Dong Yue North.
We haven’t heard anything about a slowdown in Korean production (recent cuts and a near-bankruptcy at GM Korea led to the shuttering of an underperforming plant), just that the division’s new deal should spawn a new compact crossover by the end of next year. Don’t expect to see Traxes and Encores with VINs starting with L everywhere you go.
Since GM stopped posting monthly U.S. sales figures, getting a handle on recent volume is tricky. Still, prior to the second-quarter decision, GM enjoyed very healthy sales of both the Trax and Encore. According to Wards Auto, GM imported some 32,000 Trax models from Korea last year, as well as 82,000 Encores.
[Image: General Motors]