When it arrives later this year, the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus will be the brand’s first vehicle imported from China to sell in North America. First spotted by CNBC and confirmed to The Drive by a Lincoln spokesperson, the news has already garnered some criticism online from commenters and will likely be a sticking point for union negotiations for the automaker in the coming months.
Importing a model assembled in China to sell in North America isn’t new, but relatively rare. The Buick Envision is assembled in China and sold in the U.S., and for a short time certain versions of the Cadillac XT6 and Volvo S60 were assembled in China and sold overseas. Ford said the move to outsource Nautilus production from Ontario, Canada, to China was to retool the factory for the brand’s upcoming EVs. Lincoln already assembled the Nautilus in its Changhan Hangzhou plant for sale in that market, although now it will export that model to North America as well.
Producing a domestic brand’s model overseas is certainly not new—all of the Detroit Three produce at least one model in Asia or Europe for sale in the U.S.—but it does subject those models to currency fluctuations or geopolitical forces. In 2019, then-President Donald Trump imposed a 25% tariff on goods made in China, including the Envision. While production of the S60 on sale in the U.S. has shifted from China to Charleston, South Carolina, Buick continues to sell the imported Envision for sale in the U.S. Although initial reports suggested the price of the Envision would skyrocket by thousands, the price of the Envision has decreased since 2019. The Chinese Yuan has hovered around $0.15 USD for about 15 years, although it’s been much lower before. The U.S. has accused China before of artificially manipulating its currency before, which could lead to swings in the prices of exported goods.
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