Buick is probably best known as your parents' favorite car brand, but in recent years the GM manufacturer has winnowed its offering to muscular SUVs and burnished its image as a premier combustion-focused automaker.
Now that's all about to change. Buick has unveiled a new brand identity, a big plan to shift its entire lineup to electric by the end of this decade, and a physical illustration of a much livelier design direction in its Wildcat EV concept car.
While the Wildcat sedan (yes, a sedan from an SUV company) will never see the light of day as a consumer product, it's still something to behold.
Buick didn't share any performance details regarding the Wildcat EV concept, but the two-door sedan is packed with plenty of high-end, forward-thinking details, like an Artificial Intelligence system that can auto-adjust in-car features. Buick executives also described something called "Zen Mode," which automatically adjusts cabin temperature, audio, and lighting.
The exterior, which features a wrap-around windshield, is all forward-leaning lines (yes, the intention is to make the car look like it wants to "pounce"). The LED lighting system will greet you with an animation when you arrive. The car is balanced on a set of 18-spoke wheels.
Then there are a pair of rather large semi-swing doors that give you access to what appears to be a spacious interior with cockpit-like seats and floating headrests. While Buick didn't describe the dash in any detail, the main screen traverses much of the dash and appears full of compelling graphics (there's a second screen just above the gearshift). Buick promised that the interior is filled with "premium materials," but again, didn't describe if they're leather, fabric, or synthetic materials.
New direction, big plans
Along with the Wildcat EV concept, which points to potential future design directions for the brand, Buick has redesigned its badge, removing the circle, and remaking the tri-shield. That more modern logo is fixed to the front of the Wildcat EV concept.
Buick also plans to fold all future Buick EVs under its "Electra" brand, which is a smart and cheeky bit of branding since that name connects to Buick models going all the way back to the 1950s.
Buick's shift to an all-electric lineup by 2030 is not surprising. Its parent company, GM, committed last year to introducing 30 new EVs globally by 2026. This year, GM showed off its 2024 Silverado EV, which features a 400-mile range.
As for when we'll see a Buick Electra EV we can actually buy, we'll have to wait until next year. Hours before Buick's Wildcat EV was unveiled, the brand introduced its Electra-X Crossover EV in China. It should get a similar reveal in the US later this year and, according to Buick, could ship as soon as 2023.
Analysis: Stop teasing us
US auto manufacturers are now promising a veritable legion of electric vehicles but, as of this year, we're still choosing from just under 30 models. Teasing us with exciting looks and concepts without any details about range and performance, or even whispers of availability, feels a little like a bait and switch.
Buick's decision to show off a sedan EV concept when it's only selling SUVs is doubly confusing, until you realize that the carmaker sells all sorts of cars in China. Plus, the switch from large combustion engines to one or two small but powerful electric motors (and a large flat battery array that usually sits along the base of the chassis) does offer up a whole host of new design options. Think SUV space in a sedan-sized chassis.
This is exciting, but most of us are tired of waiting for our EV future to arrive. With gas prices skyrocketing around the globe, we need more models (and at more affordable prices) right now.
So, yes, show us your gorgeous new concepts – but sell us your practical EVs today.
- If you can't get your fill of for-now unobtainable EVs, check out this first-ever EV Delorean.