Will Buick Launch A Volt Version Called Electra?

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2013 Chevrolet Volt

2013 Chevrolet Volt

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Sometimes online news sites can build complete stories--almost entirely hypothetical--around a single factoid.

This is one of those stories.

The factoid is that General Motors registered its intent to use the name Electra on a product in the category of "Motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles, sport utility vehicles, trucks, vans, engines therefor and structural parts thereof."

In other words, it may at some point build a car that carries the model name Electra.

It hasn't done so since 1990, when the final car carrying the fabled Electra 225 name (perhaps better known as the "Deuce and a Quarter") rolled off the assembly lines.

So here's our question: Could Buick be planning its own version of the Chevrolet Volt?

If so, the name "Electra" would not only be the absolutely perfect name for a plug-in car, it would neatly complement the Chevrolet model range of Volt, Spark, and Amp (a name the company registered but hasn't so far used).

The Chevy Volt itself rolled out in December 2010, and is now about to enter its third model year with a few modifications and a slightly higher electric range.

That car is also sold as the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, carrying little more than different front styling and a higher price tag.

Then, late next year, GM's luxury brand will launch a plug-in two-door luxury coupe, the 2014 Cadillac ELR (a news story we broke on this site).

The company's luxury truck brand, GMC, doesn't make cars--and so any Voltec crossover or truck for GMC is a long, long way off.

GM no longer makes Saturns, Pontiacs, HUMMERs, or Saabs.

1959 Buick Electra 225 Riviera Sedan. Photo by Nimmerya, licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0-DE.

1959 Buick Electra 225 Riviera Sedan. Photo by Nimmerya, licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0-DE.

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That leaves Buick.

And it would make sense for Buick to launch its own version of the range-extended electric Volt.

Buick is a respected brand in China--four times as many Buicks are sold there as in the U.S.--and it's positioned as a near-luxury brand in North America, meaning GM could charge higher prices for a slightly better equipped car than for its Chevrolet equivalent.

The 2012 Chevy Cruze compact sedan starts at $16,800; the 2012 Buick Verano, a more luxurious four-door compact with entirely different styling that's built on the same understructure, starts at $22,585.

You see the allure?

We suspect that over the long run, General Motors will have a range-extended electric model (or several) across most of its brands.

That's about all we can say; here endeth our speculation.

Go wild, commenters.


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Comments (16)
  1. It will happen, just not as quickly as some here may speculate. JMO

  2. As the battery energy density,cabin HVAC and other efficiencies improves, perhaps they can create a midsized LaCrosse eREV with 35-40 mile AER. Incorporate wireless charging, and GM an create a vehicle that hits the sweet spot for popularity in size and also has the compelling ability to allow a driver to avoid the hassle of weekly visits to the gas station (while retaining the ability to take long trips and avoid range anxiety).

  3. yep, smart move there. segment the market with another near identical vehicle that carries two different names... some companies may never figure it out

  4. Yeah, David, when GM does it, it's idiotic. When Toyota dos it (uh, Camry + Lexus ES350, among many examples) it's called economies of scale, smart platform and cost management, etc... Nissan/Infiniti, Honda/Acura, etc. But I guess if you just hate GM, it's different somehow, right? And since Buick is king in China, a larger market than the U.S. overall and Chevy isn't, perhaps it actually makes sense, as many others have noted.

  5. Good point robok2. Though I was thinking along the lines that, you know you have to rebuild your image when you get criticized for your model mix based on registering a trade name. No comment on folks that criticize a manufacturers product mix based on an article speculating on the meaning of registering the intent to possibly use a trademark at a future date though.

  6. Thanks, Jeff. I'm fine with criticism of GM, of course, as there's clearly plenty of aummunition, especially from the past. The endless, mindless criticism by the factually-challenged, however, is irritating.

    When GM does "badge engineering," it's bad, but when others do it, it's apparently good. When GM demands the EV1 back after leases, it's bad, when most other OEMs do the same thing now, it's never even commented on...

    Yeah, simply registering a trademark invites criticism... I agree, overkill but that's what the most extreme among us specialize in these days, proving, as you astutely noted, that GM's image still has a long way to go.

  7. It seems like an obvious move. The only questions are (1) Why would it take them this long? They should have done it already., and ... (2) How about some new body styles, such as minivan, SUV, etc.?

  8. Better and much cheaper batteries are just around the corner, in my opinion. Which means any money spent on extended range development is money down the drain.

  9. In the mean time, I get to enjoy my Volt...

    Your talk aof WSU battery is at least 5-6 yr to commericalization. That is minimum development type for typical technology. Testing and real life turning can take years...

  10. I guess once you don't have the slightest idea about actual product development times and are told what they are... Well, you still apparently continue to have no clue at all about product development timing.

    Just around the corner... Hilarious...! You can lead a horse to water, etc... Let's all stop working while the world's best specialists at a mediocre university like WSU magically bring this to market in the next few months as you insist... Yeah, product development, system development and validation, things that take years even for things like electric motors, yeah, they'll now take only a few months because the world apparently changed and testing itself did as well... Wow! Wishful thinking goes a long way in some minds, apparently.

  11. Kent, Esperato is simpler easier to use, and saves on translation and distribution costs. Very soon it will be obvious that anything that you wrote in English today was a complete waste of time. Just around the corner, mark my words.

  12. Make it a pure battery electric, put in enough battery to give it an EPA rated 225 mile range and call it the Electra 225!

  13. If they put a bench seat in two rows (think six-person capacity like in a standard Buick) I'll be the first one in line to buy it :)

  14. @Jan: I've been told that we're not likely to see a return to bench seats in U.S. cars because of the challenge of properly restraining and providing an airbag for the middle passenger under new and more challenging crash tests by the NHTSA and IIRC.

  15. It's a great name for an EV, GM never knew the true value of what they came up with in 1959....but now they know. This move of theirs is a good signal for EVangelists that GM is committed to the faith.

  16. If the Volt, at $42k, isn't selling because of high cost, what makes Buick think it can sell a luxury version at a higher price? I'd rather GM make a de-contented Cruze hybrid based on the Volt, for $30k, with a $7500 tax credit.

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