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.

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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