Teaser for Buick Velite concept debuting at 2016 Guangzhou auto show
The current-generation Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid may acquire a new identity for the Chinese market.
General Motors sold the first-generation Volt under different brands in various international markets.
So far it hasn’t continued that practice with the second-generation version, which went on sale in the U.S. earlier this year.
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But according to a report from Chinese car website Autohome (via Autoverdict), GM may re-badge the current-generation Volt as the Buick Velite for sale in China.
The report includes photos of the alleged Buick-badged Volt, purportedly from the Chinese Ministry of Cars, a regulatory agency that manages the approval of new models for sale in China.
Aside from Buick badges, styling appears largely similar to the U.S.-market Volt.
UPDATE 2: Last week, GM China released a teaser shot for the Buick Velite Concept it will reveal at the Guangzhou auto show, which opens this Friday.
The purpose of the concept, it said, is to mark the introduction of a new Buick Blue brand for electrified vehicles in China.
From the limited visual information in the teaser photo, it appears to be a new front end applied to the existing 2017 Volt.
MORE: 2015 Buick Envision Compact Crossover Unveiled In China (Sep 2014)
A production version of the Velite would also likely use the same powertrain as the Volt, which includes a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and a T-shaped, 18.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
The Buick Velite name was first used on a concept car that debuted at the 2004 New York Auto Show.
That car—a convertible with a powertrain consisting of a 3.6-liter V-6 and 6-speed automatic transmission—was pretty far removed from a plug-in hybrid hatchback.
But selling the Volt in China as a Buick makes sense, given that brand’s popularity in the world’s largest auto market.
Buick sells far more vehicles in China than it does in the U.S., and as a result, its Chinese lineup gets more attention from product planners and a more varied array of vehicles than does its U.S. lineup.
The Envision crossover went on sale in China well before its U.S. launch, and China also gets a Buick LaCrosse Hybrid that isn’t available here.
That model uses a similar powertrain to the U.S.-market Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid.
While it was never sold as a Buick, the first-generation Volt did take on different guises for various markets.
With somewhat different styling, it was sold as the Opel Ampera in continental Europe, and as the Vauxhall Ampera in the U.K. It was also sold as the Holden Volt in Australia and New Zealand.
2013 Holden Volt with Better Place Charge Spot and executives from both companies
GM has not confirmed plans to revive any of these naming schemes for the current-generation Volt.
UPDATE 1: We reached out to GM before this article was published. Elizabeth Winter, from the company’s global advanced-technology communications group, later sent the following statement:
Over the next five years, we will roll out more than 10 New Energy Vehicles in China, including several models for Buick. That includes full hybrids, plug-in hybrids, extended-range electrics, and more. We are not announcing anything further at this time.
In other words, GM has provided only corporate boilerplate and will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the Buick Velite-badged Chevrolet Volt to be sold in China that was apparently filed with the Chinese Ministry of Cars.
[hat tip: Brian Henderson]
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