Los Angeles wasn’t the only international auto show to open its doors in the past week. There was also Auto Guangzhou 2016, in China, and that’s where General Motors chose to introduce its latest Buick concept – the plug-in hybrid Velite.
It’s not surprising that Guangzhou got the nod over LA for China is by far the Buick’s biggest market. Typically, the brand sells more than 800,000 Buicks annually in China, compared to just over 200,000 in the USA.
The Buick Velite Concept is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that employs GM’s new-generation modular intelligent electric drive system – read Chevrolet Volt powertrain – at its core, with a high-performance modular lithium-ion battery pack for energy storage.
Buick says the technology will be used in an upcoming PHEV production model and the Velite Concept may give us a preview of what that product will be. According to the company, it serves as a template for future new energy vehicles under the brand’s Buick Blue strategy in China.
The concept is described as having an innovative crossover body style that combines a sporty design with practical space, although its form is more hatchback passenger car than utility vehicle.
A pretty form it is, as Buick’s designers continue to lead the way in avant garde styling among GM’s divisions.
Flowing lines and rippling, sculpted curves reflect the Buick design language, which is also said to aid aerodynamics. A wing-shaped trim piece atop the grille encompasses the car’s matrix LED headlights, which turn down into vertical trim pieces that define the forward edges of the front fenders – said to hint at Buick’s styling signature for future new energy vehicles.
The development of the Velite Concept was led by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), an engineering and design joint venture between GM and its Chinese partner, SAIC.
The Shanghai-based team was said to draw inspiration from water and traditional Chinese culture to create a vehicle that is efficient, intelligent and green.
Inside, the Velite Concept features recycled materials, a panoramic sunroof and induction ambient lighting, again pointing to design trends for upcoming new energy vehicles.
The Velite Concept also serves as a mobile network permitting users connection with their intelligent devices as well as the application of innovative technologies such as cloud-based connection and storage, customized service and remote operation.
Another noteworthy feature is a 360-degree intelligent traffic induction system supported by sensors on the car body, which enable multiple functions such as hazard warning, lane and safety distance keep assist, high-speed adaptive cruise control, low-speed automatic driving and night vision.
The introduction of the Velite Concept follows August’s global debut of the Buick LaCrosse Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and demonstrates Buick’s effort to speed up the implementation of its Buick Blue new energy vehicle strategy.
Additional vehicles featuring HEV, PHEV, extended-range electric vehicle (EREV), and all-electric powertrains are on the said to be on the way from Buick as part of its Buick Blue new energy vehicle strategy.
How many of those products will make it to North America remains to be seen.