General Motors may be trying to spread Chevrolet through Europe and Asia, but it won't put the Chevy bowtie on its Volt extended-range electric vehicle when that car goes on sale in China next year.
Instead, the car that hits U.S. dealerships this November as the 2011 Chevrolet Volt will be sold in China as a Buick.
Chinese patent filing showing Buick version of Opel Ampera (Chevrolet Volt) extended-range EV
Opel Ampera Prototype
Why? Because, in the words of GM-Volt.com, Buick is a "has a lot of cache [sic] in China, and is the flagship of General Motors in that country (despite Cadillac being present...since 2004)." More than twice as many Buicks are sold each year in China as in the U.S.
To make it even more complicated, the Chinese Buick version will use the front-end styling of the Opel Ampera--essentially a Volt with a new nose that will be sold as a 2012 model in European markets, where the Opel brand is more prestigious than downmarket Chevrolet.
The Volt, in fact, will be sold globally under no fewer than five brands and two model names:
- 2011 Chevrolet Volt (North America)
- 2012 Buick Ampera (China)
- 2012 Opel Ampera (Europe)
- 2012 Vauxhall Ampera (U.K., with Vauxhall being the British brand now used on RHD versions of most Opel models)
- 2013 Holden Ampera (Australia, with Holden being that country's traditional home brand since 1931)
All the variations, by the way, will be exported from the Volt manufacturing line in the Detroit-Hamtramck factory, where the first pre-production model was built on March 31.
Might there be more? Perhaps the Volt could be sold in Korea as a Daewoo, since GM now controls that brand and uses it on the Cruze compact sedan sold elsewhere as a Chevrolet. With the Buick news, however, the Volt clearly won't be sold as a Wuling in China.
At least we know there won't be Volts sold by Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, or HUMMER, since those brands were shut down or sold off following GM's bankruptcy.