By on September 23, 2016

Buick Velite

American Chevrolet Volt fans have long discussed how the quasi-upscale extended-range EV might have fared with a Buick badge instead of being branded as a bread-and-butter Chevrolet.

It appears the Chinese have gone beyond the discussion phase.

According to Chinese website Autohome, Shanghai GM gets it, and has pulled the strings to rename the Chevy Volt the Velite for a brand that is more prestigious and sells in higher volume in China.

While an announcement has yet to come from GM, things appear underway as the photo was reportedly taken at the Chinese agency that approves new vehicles before being sold (the Ministry of Cars).

Inside the Chevy with a Buick badge on it is the same 1.5-liter plug-in extended range electric powertrain, says Autohome. Electric range for the Chinese market is estimated at 100 kilometers (62 miles) — not far above the U.S. EPA rating of 53 miles for the Volt.

autohomecar__wKjByFfjSc2AWMj-AAHUxIPkT28525 (1)

Whether the Volt-based Buick would be produced domestically or imported from the U.S. is unclear. GM would save itself tariffs and hope to sell more units in places like Beijing where some wear gas masks to prevent toxic air from invading their lungs.

The company previously attempted to sell the imported first-gen Volt in China, but at $79,000 apiece, it was prohibitively expensive and did no favors for GM’s joint venture partners.

In naming the new Buick, GM apparently will not use its “Electra” nameplate, a traditional Buick name GM applied to trademark in 2012. According to Autohome, the actual name is still up in the air. The name begins with “V,” leading it to suggest Velite is the new name. “Velite” was once applied to a 2004 concept car, but this model shares no other similarities to it.

The second-generation Volt was designed at the behest of existing Volt owners despite sales being less than originally projected. Its revised drive unit/electric transmission was revised to make it simple to use the architecture for more hybrids, and potentially plug-in hybrids. The Malibu Hybrid was co-developed alongside it.

While the U.S. market second-generation Volt has not broken through previous sales barriers, it does represent an investment in GM’s electrified future, and China is its number one market.

GM was an early pioneer in opening up a U.S. presence with joint venture partners in China. Its Cadillac CT6 PHEV was also developed first for that market, and is slated for export back to the U.S.

Sharing the Volt’s wealth could fit with GM’s global plans. In a separate report last February, what were represented as spy photos of the Chevy Volt being developed for Europe were shown indicating the Ampera could be brought back despite assertions by GM to the contrary.

GM is in process of beating the band for its all-electric Bolt-based Ampera-e, but has not said if an Ampera based on the Volt would come. Alternatively, and going out on a limb, it has been speculated that the European-market Ampera seen in spy shots is actually bound for China, but this is anyone’s guess.

More clear is that the photo of a Volt with Buick badge sitting at the Chinese ministry indicates an extended-range electric Buick could be just a matter of time.

[Images: Autohome]

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18 Comments on “Chevrolet Volt Could Wear a ‘Buick Velite’ Nametag in China...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    I find the most attractive thing about any Buick is the Trident Shield.

    Too bad the name Buick is just a marketing device.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      The Chinese population LOVES Buick. Buick in China is akin to BMW and Mercedes here in the States. The Chinese market sees Buick as a luxury marque. I believe Chairman Mao drove a Buick, which opened the floodgates for the demand in China. I have no doubt the Buick Velite will be successful.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @SSJeep
        Fascination with Buick, stems from the fact that the last Emporer of China was chauffeured around in a Buick. Could be a pretty ordinary car, but will sell because it is a Buick

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    A chrome vertical bar grille would make it look more Buicky.

  • avatar
    Click REPLY to reload page

    If it had a Hyundai badge, no one would even think twice.

    They’ll have to lux it up a bit to make it convincing as a Buick.

    And it might as well be built in China, since so many of its parts will be coming from there, anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “And it might as well be built in China, since so many of its parts will be coming from there, anyway”

      There isn’t a single part for the 2016 Volt sourced from China!….LOL. Korea and Japan yes, but not China. 45% US/Canadian parts.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    There are a lot of cheese snobs around here but I still proudly buy and eat Velite.

  • avatar

    I’m waiting for the Hastati,Princepe and Triarii classes of SUVs

  • avatar
    Luke42

    The Volt should have been a Buick all along.

    I’ve never understood why Buick exists in the US. Because, seriously, why pay extra for a Chevy, when you can get all of the luxury option I’m interested in (leather seats, sunroof, adaptive cruise control) in Chevy?

    Buick could have become GM’s high tech brand.

    Cadillac is already the blingy ostentatious brand, and always has been.

    And Chevrolet will sell you a car for any practical purpose.

    I’ve test driven every versions of the Volt, and am sorely tempted to buy one. Alas, we need a family van and a long-range commuter car (100 miles/day), so the Volt may fall through my fingers one more time – even though I really want one.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Luke42..My business partner has a Volt and LOVES it. He has had it for 3 years now and pounds the miles on it. He is not a car guy, at all, ever. Bought it for the tax deduction and he needed a car. He plugs it in at home and when the juice runs out drives around on the gas motor/power. According to his onboard computer, which he never checks or resets (cause he just doesn’t care) his lifetime average MPG is 63 last I checked, which I do everytime I am in it.

      So, 100 miles a day might as well do the first 50 on electric and they are super quiet on the highway even with the gas engine working.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        Interesting numbers. My friend’s ’16 Prius is averaging slightly better than 63 mpg over 8000 miles so far, and he never feeds it electricity from the power grid.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Yeah, but, he’s driving a freaking prius. From what I hear, the Volt drives much better. Then again, I think a motorized shopping cart would drive better than the Prius I drove.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      A Buick would be appropriate. The Volt 2nd-gen is an amazing car (I have one, 20k miles so far), it is the smoothest drivetrain I’ve ever driven that isn’t just pure electric, quiet, comfortable, and well made. And after tax credit, it really is no more $ that a Prius while driving vastly better.

      But the cache of the Buick name would make sense. People don’t expect a chevy to be so glassy smooth. People would believe it in a Buick.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    With the type of customer GM wants for the Volt, it should have been a Buick to begin with. I never understood why they marketed it as a Chevrolet. It should have been marketed as a Buick and once the economies of scale drove the price down, then perhaps build a Chevy model.

    I would have considered a Buick Velite. I won’t consider a Chevy Volt and the Cadillac ELR was entirely too costly and too slow for the $.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I still contend that Volt was a big enough advance that it should have been its own brand, available at any GM store.

  • avatar
    motormouth

    Can’t do worse than the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera.

    But is that Velite, rhyming with ‘delete’, or ‘V-light’, as in what a gynecologist might use?


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