Buick Electra EV concept ain’t your grandfather’s land yacht

Buick Electra EV concept ain’t your grandfather’s land yacht

For Electra, one body style is not enough. It’s more of a sedan-crossover mix.

Buick

Buick unveiled a surprise concept at the 2020 Beijing Motor Show, which began this weekend. This is the Buick Electra concept, and it’s none other than the Electra you may know from the past. While the Electra that springs to mind for most Buick fans is the elongated land yacht from the mid to late 20th century, Buick’s reborn Electra concept takes inspiration from a space capsule.

It really is a futuristic looking machine, although it’s hard to say where the vehicle falls in the spectrum of the body. Buick calls it a crossover, but it looks more like a high-profile, edgy sedan, much like that Nissan IMS concept shown in 2019. The Polestar 2 also rocks a similar formula. Still, it’s an eye-catching design from Buick that has brought out some of the best concept cars from General Motors’ design department over the past 10 years. Notice Avenir? Or Avista? Yes.

Perhaps more important than the metal that encases the internals is the fact that this concept includes GMs Ultium battery technology. In essence, this is a somewhat dramatic look at how Buick plans to design its future electric cars. With GM’s integrated Ultium battery and BEV3 platform, the Buick designers opted for an ethos they call “potential energy”. While the front looks a bit traditional with a square bezel, the car tapers through the greenhouse, creating a spike-like shape at the back. Buick said the idea was to mimic an arrow ready to be released. That’s the “potential energy” thing again.

The greenhouse essentially consists of a large glass roof that extends from the hood to the rear. If that doesn’t give you enough retro-futurism, the Electra concept features butterfly-style doors with facial recognition for easy entry and exit. Would you like another mobility option? Slide the “floating skateboard” out from under the rear bumper.

Going back to the reason why the Ultium battery is so important to GM, it is helping to change the way designers can “package” interiors. In this case, Electra envisions a world where A and B pillars are irrelevant, and I’m 100% here for that future. Not only does the car look more spacious, it’s also more spacious with a flat floor and tons of legroom between the Electra’s four seats. Speaking of seats, they “float”. A new structure that GM designers have implemented gives the impression of “weightlessness”, which is to be identified together with the type of space capsule for the cabin. Everything is super-futuristic, including the one-piece digital dash and a retractable steering wheel. Buick didn’t talk about self-driving capabilities, but it clearly sees this concept car as autonomous.

What isn’t that far-fetched is the performance specs, which seem to underscore that this type of car might become a reality sooner rather than later, minus the distant dashboard and autonomous capabilities. Buick said the Electra Concept will do 404 miles on a single charge and deliver a whopping 583 horsepower. Based on what GM has said in the past about Ultium batteries and Ultium Drive drives, this sounds realistic.

There’s no solid confirmation that Buick will put this concept car into production. What seems like a no-brainer is to name a future Electra branded electric vehicle, whether it looks like it or not.


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