Eastern Promises: 'Buick Volt' Ready to Tempt Chinese Greenies
Badge-engineered bliss awaits environmentally conscious General Motors buyers in China. Announced today, the Buick Velite 5 range-extended electric vehicle will soon launch in the car-hungry marketplace, but Americans might recognize it as something else.
Hiding in plain sight behind that Buick badge — which carries plenty of sales clout in China — is a Chevrolet Volt, which aims to compete against a host of low-cost electrics and gas-powered compacts.
Over here, the Volt carries a 53-mile electric range, but the Chinese testing cycle should grant the Velite 5 an emissions-free rating of more than 62 miles, GM claims. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder generator will soothe range anxiety fears among buyers afraid of local towing companies.
This isn’t the first GM hybrid vehicle to land on Chinese shores. An electrified version of the full-size LaCrosse went on sale last year, and GM claims the country can expect more plug-ins and battery electric vehicles within the next two years. Buick Bolt, anyone?
The Volt’s metamorphosis into a Buick is less odd when you consider the brand’s status in the Orient. With over a million vehicles sold last year, Buick — first sold in China in 1998 — is that country’s go-to upscale American nameplate, though Cadillac and Lincoln are quickly making inroads (with much ground to cover). By giving the technology-packed vehicle a new badge, it elevates the vehicle to the premium league.
While the [s]Volt[/s] Velite 5 gives GM a fancy gadget to show off, it’s crossovers and SUVs that really tempt Chinese buyers. The Buick Envision remains the country’s best-selling utility vehicle, while sales of Cadillac’s XT5 crossover are skyrocketing. Late to the party, but no doubt looking to clean up, the newly downsized 2018 Chevrolet Equinox will debut in China later this spring.
That vehicle’s entry-level 1.5-liter four-cylinder allows early buyers to take advantage of a reduced levy for vehicle up to 1.6-liters in displacement. The lower levy, which sank from 10 percent last year to 5 percent, before rising to 7.5 percent on January 1st of this year, aims to stimulate vehicle sales. The levy rises back to 10 percent in 2018.
[Image: General Motors]
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