Eastern Promises: 'Buick Volt' Ready to Tempt Chinese Greenies

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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 Volt 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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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Mar 24, 2017

    Well, the Velite 5 is much better than the Velite 4. Will the Bolt become the Delite 5?

  • Akear Akear on Mar 24, 2017

    I just checked in autonews, Buick has slipped behind Cadillac in sales. Buick...sucks....sucks

  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.
  • Master Baiter This is horrible. Delaying this ban will raise the Earth's temperature by 0.00000001°C in the year 2100.
  • Alan Buy a Skoda Superb.
  • Alan In Australia only hairdressers would buy this Monaro as its known as. Real men had 4 door sedans and well hung men drive 4x4 dual cab utes with bullbars and towbars. I personally think this is butt ugly. Later iterations of the Commodore were far better looking.
  • Jeff As a few commenters on prior articles on this site about the UAW strike mentioned many of the lower tiered suppliers could go bankrupt and some could possibly go out of business if the strike is prolonged. Decades ago Ford and GM owned many of their own suppliers but as we all know over the years manufacturers have been outsourcing more parts and with just in time supply there is little room for any interruptions to production including strikes, natural disasters, and anything unforeseen that could happen. When the strike ends there will be delays in production due to parts shortages. It costs suppliers money to just keep making parts and stockpiling them especially when many parts have razor thin profit margins.