Buick! (Now That We've Got Your Attention, Let's Head to China)
What country can’t get enough of the Buick brand? Well, not the United States, clearly. But cross the Pacific and Buick is the equivalent of Nicki Minaj and free Coca-Cola and the iPhone X, all rolled into one. Much desirability among the middle-class consumer set.
While we’ve seen some new product on these shores in the past year or so (a new Enclave, Regal, and refreshed Envision are the only things that come to mind), China awaits two wholly new models. One technically isn’t production bound, at least not yet, but you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s a given: A Buick SUV concept — fully electric, and boasting a pretty sexy liftgate — that might have a future on both sides of the Pacific.
It’s called the Enspire (Buick’s avoiding the obvious and legit Electra name for some reason), and it’s bound for a Chinese Buick brand event on April 17th, followed by an official debut at next week’s Beijing auto show.
GM’s only calling the Enspire “an exploration of design and new technologies,” but the automaker’s global product plan calls for 20 electric vehicles within the next five years. If the Enspire doesn’t soon enter production, a vehicle just like it will.
It’s probable that Buick used the Chevrolet Bolt platform for the concept’s underpinnings. Any production vehicle would surely draw from the company’s first mass-market EV. Regardless, the Enspire is GM’s latest vision of “future electric smart mobility” — a term that’s sure to lower the heart rate of many a TTAC reader.
Joining the Enspire in Beijing are two versions of the Buick Velite 6, a just-announced cousin to the Chevrolet Volt-based Velite 5. Inspired by the Velite Concept of 2016 (seen above), the Velite 6 comes in two flavors: plug-in hybrid and fully electric. GM claims the models contain the latest in Buick’s eMotion electrified propulsion technology.
A Riviera it ain’t, but the 92,007 Chinese buyers who paid for a new Buick last month might disagree.
Naturally, the appearance of the Enspire has us thinking about the (rumored) discontinuation of the Chevrolet Sonic and the space that would free up at GM’s Orion assembly plant — the same factory tasked with building the Bolt. We’ve heard about a looming Bolt-based Buick crossover for what seems like forever, but GM still hasn’t revealed its product cards. Will China’s Buick EV crossover have an American sibling? And what’s taking so long?
[Images: General Motors]
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