You know how it goes: Nothing is dead which can eternal lie, and that’s apparently now the case with the Buick Electra. After floating in the ether for thirty years, the old nameplate has been revived in a new concept, but not as you might imagine. Instead of being a grandiose revival of the land barge lifestyle, the old name has been repurposed in a similar way to the new Blazer — as a crossover.
Or, more specifically, as a crossover concept emerging from GM’s Shanghai-based design house, the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center. The Electra name represents one of the three shields in the Buick logo (the others being LeSabre and Invicta), and the automaker saw fit to bring the old name back to preview a new design language for the brand.
Called “Potential Energy,” the Buick Electra concept incorporates a “forward-looking design inspired by a space capsule”, or so GM says. Underneath the expectedly futuristic body, there’s a host of new technology like keyless entry through facial recognition and a “zero-gravity” four-seat interior layout.
How much of the Electra will make it to production?
In concept form, the Buick Electra concept packs tons of next-generation technology. At its heart is GM’s Ultium battery pack, riding atop the company’s latest BEV3 platform that will underpin the GMC Hummer EV, among several others.
The dual motor powertrain on display here puts out 582 horsepower (435 kW). That means an estimated 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds according to Buick, while the battery promises more than 410 miles (660 km) on a charge.
Ultium uses a wireless battery management system, which reduces wiring within the pack by 90%, and helps balance chemistry within individual cell groups to prolong battery life. In addition to the battery tech, Buick promises to bring “intelligent driving technology” and V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communication capability in the production model.
At this point, whether GM will call the production model a “Buick Electra” and bring it to the U.S. market remains a mystery. Hopefully we’ll know more in the coming months, so stay tuned for more updates.
Editor’s Note on the ‘Electra’
While I’ll admit the Buick Electra died before my time, I still know that nameplate as one of the brand’s icons. It’s an evocative name, to be sure, and you could argue that Electra makes sense with an electric car. Buick plans to roll out at least two electric cars in the coming years.
As a pure-crossover brand, one of those could be a production Electra, though I suspect GM will tone down some of the design cues dramatically from what we see here. Butterfly doors are awesome on concepts, but their cost and complexity will almost certainly kill them beyond the design study. The Cadillac Escalade did set the trend for huge screens in GM’s vehicles, though, so that may carry onward. Depending on when Buick actually brings this crossover to production, it should also get a proper steering wheel, unless we’ve somehow cracked Level 5 autonomy by then.