Buick’s Future Is Looking Pretty Bright Thanks to the Electra Concept
The iconic Buick Electra returns as an all-electric crossoverby Ciprian Florea, on
Although General Motors is selling a couple of electric cars, none of them are coming into showrooms with a Buick badge. But this will change soon because Buick just unveiled an all-electric concept that previews at least one production model. It’s called the Electra, a name Buick used on an iconic full-size car produced from 1959 to 1990, which means it’s a very important project for the brand. Unveiled in Shanghai, it’s developed by GM’s Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center in China, it debuts a new design language, and features an advanced battery system called Ultium.
The 2020 Buick Electra is a sleek electric crossover
While the Electra was sold as a full-size sedan and coupe for most of its life as a production car, this concept takes the nameplate into new territory. The Electra concept looks impressively sleek, but it’s basically a sporty crossover, or an SUV with a grand tourer-like roof. Yet another car name lost in the land of SUVs, I guess.
Design-wise, it debuts a new styling language called "potential energy."
Fancy words aside, it’s a sleek design with sharp features in the front and organic side and rear panels. The front fascia boasts a pointy nose with a really thin grille that reminds me of the Tesla Model X, flanked by extremely slim headlamps that flow toward the bumper at the corners. It features an illuminated badge, something you usually find on expensive Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce models.
The profile looks a lot like a coupe if we ignore the SUV-specific ride-height. It features a really high waistline, and the rear doors occupy about half of the rear fenders, which is a bit unusual. Speaking of the doors, they are of the butterfly variety with the rear ones opening toward the back.
The Electra also features SUV-style cladding, heavily sculpted side skirts, and rides on massive 23-inch wheels.
The rear boasts a cool vintage vibe thanks to the boat-tail-inspired decklid. Details are rather clean and simple, but the stoplight under the rear bumper hides a floating skateboard. Another cool feature is the facial recognition system integrated into the butterfly doors, meaning you don’t need a key or a smartphone to get inside the vehicle.
The 2020 Buick Electra features an elegant and spacious interior
The interior provides seating for four, as is traditional in all-electric concept cars. Based on the photos, there’s a lot of legroom for both front and rear passengers, and the seats seem to have been designed for premium comfort. Thanks to the electric drivetrain, there’s no center console to between the front seats. The seats also appear to float inside the cabin, especially the ones in the front, mounted on a stylish support bar that extends from the side skirt areas.
The dashboard is basically a massive, curved display, while the steering wheel and the pedals are retractable, showcasing the concept's fully autonomous capability.
Buick says it also features a next-generation eConnect connectivity system with over-the-air updates and a variety of connected and intelligent driving technologies.
Other highlights that are briefly mentioned include a next-generation AI Voice Assistant through which you can fully manage the vehicle’s functions.
The 2020 Buick Electra previews innovative battery technology
The Electra is more than just Buick’s first EV, and it’s not based on existing electric vehicles produced by GM.
Details as to what hides under the body is slim, but Buick brags about a new and advanced battery called Ultium that provides more than 410 miles of range per single charge.
While that’s below what you can get from Tesla right now, it’s still much better than most production EVs out there.
Buick also claims that it invented a wireless battery management system that reduces the number of wires within the battery 90 percent. This allows for a more compact design with improved reliability, but it also helps balance chemistry within individual battery cell groups. As far as motors go, the Electra is fitted with two units that generate a maximum output of 583 horsepower. That’s enough to send the SUV flying from 0 to 62 mph in 4.3 seconds.
|Power||two electric motors|
|0 to 60 mph||4.3 seconds|
The Buick Electra is an iconic nameplate
It’s pretty obvious that Buick picked the Electra name because this vehicle is electric, but the traditional nameplate has nothing in common with haulers.
The Electra was first introduced in 1959 as a full-size car that replaced both the Roadmaster and Super. Sold in a variety of body styles, it was related to both the Oldsmobile 98 and the Cadillac Eldorado. The original Electra survived for six generations, being redesigned in 1961, 1965, 1971, 1977, and 1984. The Electra was discontinued in 1990, when the Park Avenue, previously a trim in the Electra lineup, became a distinct nameplate.