Buick will be General Motors’ first mainstream brand to go fully electric, with the company announcing overnight that the tri-shield marque will be EV-only by 2030, but only in North America.
That’s an important caveat because while Buick was founded in the US, the brand’s future is overwhelmingly Chinese. In 2021, Buick sold 180,000 cars in the States, and 816,000 in China — or a shade over 4.5 times more vehicles.
Thanks to its earlier introduction into the Middle Kingdom, Buick is GM’s most popular brand there, outselling Chevrolet by 207,000 units in 2021.
Buick’s path to being an EV-only marque in the US starts in 2024 when sales of its first electric car begin, widely expected to be a crossover.
For China, Buick is planning to unveil five new EVs between now and 2025, including at least one sedan, one people mover, and one crossover.
All of Buick’s EVs will be based on GM’s Ultium platform, and carry the Electra name with an alphanumeric suffix to denote different models.
Electra was the name used on Buick’s flagship model from 1959 to 1990.
In the world’s most populous nation, Buick will continue to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid and petrol engines into the foreseeable future.
Accompanying today’s news, Buick unveiled a new logo, and three cars — two concepts and one production-ready — that provide clues about the brand’s new styling direction.
The new logo retains the tri-shield design, which harkens back to founder David Dunbar Buick’s family coat of arms. Now arrayed in a straight line, the shields have been freed from their previous circular boundary.
Buick will roll out the new logo, as well as an updated typeface, to its websites and showrooms over the next 18 months.
The Wildcat concept unveiled in the US is a 2+2 coupe with 18-spoke turbine wheels, sharp haunches, hockey-stick tail-lights, and a squat stance with a wraparound windscreen design.
Gone are the company’s waterfall grille, and various Opel-inspired elements. These will be replaced by something similar to the Wildcat’s beak-like fascia and wide lower grille.
The Wildcat’s doors swing out, but part of the roof also lifts up to make ingress and egress easier.
The Electra-X concept revealed in China probably gives a better indication of Buick’s first Ultium-based EV.
Inside the Electra-X features a 30-inch freestanding curved display on the dashboard. Both concepts have minimalist interiors that neatly blend modern features with call backs to the brand’s glory years.
Buick hasn’t provided any details about the performance or range for either concept.
If this wasn’t enough, Buick also took the wraps off the GL8 Century, a new top-end people mover for China.
The 5.2m MPV will be the first production vehicle to use elements from Buick’s new design template.
As with the Lexus LM and current Buick GL8, the GL8 Century is available as a four-seater with business class seats in the back, and a partition to separate front from back.