Chevrolet Volt Could Wear a 'Buick Velite' Nametag in China

chevrolet volt could wear a 8216 buick velite nametag in china

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.

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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  • Jimal Jimal on Sep 25, 2016

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

  • Motormouth Motormouth on Sep 26, 2016

    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?

  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.