The guessing games continue, with General Motors releasing more details about its Buick Envision concept car that give tantalizing hints of a concept stuffed with technology, but without the benefit of too many metrics.

Following the release of a sketch two weeks ago, now GM has released a whole set of concept photos. We'll be eager to see the actual car in the flesh once it's revealed at Auto Shanghai, which starts tonight (Tuesday morning in China).

Buick sells three times as many vehicles in China as it does in the States, so Chinese buyers--and future buyers--are the market for this swoopy concept whose styling is based on the concepts of yin and yang, according to GM's press material.

Right now, Buick has no small crossover in the Chinese market, so this is likely a styling study for a future model. Whether its plug-in hybrid powertrain makes it into production--and if so where?--is just one of the many puzzles.

The chassis is made of carbon fiber, aluminum, and magnesium (expect a variety of high-strength steels in a production version). The forward-tilting scissor doors are undeniably cool but unlikely for a volume vehicle.

It's that hybrid powertrain that has us intrigued, though. Buick says the Envision has "GM's world-leading PHEV plug-in hybrid system." That leads us to think it's not the Voltec powertrain used in the 2011 Chevy Volt range-extended electric car, but a new iteration of the ill-fated Two-Mode Plug-In Hybrid.

Buick Envision Concept leaked images

Buick Envision Concept leaked images

The twists and turns of that powertrain's fate would take more space than we have here (they were originally intended to debut in a 2010 Saturn Vue Plug-In Hybrid). We suspect GM engineers have been quietly refining the technology in the background even though several products meant to house it have been stillborn.

The Envision uses a 2.0-liter direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engine, though no output figures were provided. Neither was there an electric range, a capacity for the lithium-ion battery pack, or any other actual numbers for this concept.

It was specified as all-wheel-drive (it's a crossover, after all), and the only detail of the hybrid system was a reference to a pair of electric motor-generators. Buick also refers to a "dual automatic/manual eight-speed transmission," but doesn't mention how it's combined with or integrated into the electric motors.

We hope to talk to GM about exactly how this mix of components work, so we can make some guesses about performance--even if the company won't release numbers.

Buick Envision SUV Concept, teaser sketch, Auto Shanghai 2011

Buick Envision SUV Concept, teaser sketch, Auto Shanghai 2011

Other technology elements include an electromagnetic suspension (as pioneered by Cadillac), a "next-generation" intelligent Bluetooth system that links mobile phones to the Web, a heads-up information display projected onto the windshield, and an OLED touch-screen interface.

There's also a solar panel on the roof, though the press release goes a little overboard when it says, "additional energy for the battery is produced by the solar roof."

Technically, that's true, but the amount is miniscule--usually enough to run a few accessories, and nowhere near enough to move the vehicle. Hey, it's a concept, right?

Meanwhile, enjoy the concept images of what's clearly not your father's Buick.

Wait, that's not quite right ....

[GM via MotorAuthority]


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