• Aug 6th 2009 at 11:05AM
  • 58

Bob Lutz has gone on record worrying about Buick's advertising campaign, arguing that the messaging doesn't say the right things to the right people. If only Buick had been advertising this instead: a five-passenger "Baby Enclave" CUV that is coming next year, followed by a plug-in hybrid version in 2011.

General Motors expects the plug-in hybrid "to be the first commercially available plug-in hybrid SUV produced by a major automaker," and it looks like they don't plan on any shortcuts with it. The gas-electric Buick will use LG Chem li-ion batteries juicing up a reworked version of GM's 2-Mode hybrid drivetrain, and can be recharged in four to five hours.

But until that gets here you'll have to make do with the full-boat gasoline-powered Enclave. Those who don't need that much space but are keen on owning a Buick would be well advised to wait for the forthcoming Saturn Vue-based model, which will arrive with a 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine that is expected to get 30 mpg on the highway, and there will also be a 3.0-liter V6 version as well. You can read all about the new model in the press release after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]


New Buick Crossover Will Feature Plug-In Hybrid System

* Five-passenger crossover arrives in 2010 with family of fuel-efficient direct-injected gas engines
* Plug-in hybrid model debuts in 2011
* Expected to be first commercially available plug-in hybrid SUV produced by a major automaker

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - General Motors' plug-in hybrid technology will be introduced in a new Buick crossover vehicle in 2011, Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman of product development, announced here today during the Management Briefing Seminars.

The yet-to-be-named Buick crossover will launch in late 2010 offering a family of fuel-efficient direct-injected gasoline engines, followed in 2011 by the plug-in hybrid model.

"Buick has always been at the forefront of new technology, so it is only fitting that the brand should debut our new plug-in hybrid technology in a beautiful new crossover," said Stephens. "This will firmly put Buick, and GM, front and center in the advanced technology game."

A new Buick for a new customer
The new five-passenger crossover will build on the success of the Buick Enclave, offering the brand's finely crafted execution and premium driving experience in a fuel-efficient package.

"Some customers who have been drawn to the Enclave were looking for something a little smaller, but they didn't want to give up craftsmanship or a quiet ride to get there," said Susan Docherty, general manager of Buick-Pontiac-GMC. "We believe this new Buick will excite those customers, and will continue to broaden the appeal of the brand."

The Buick crossover will be powered by an Ecotec 2.4L direct-injected four-cylinder engine with an optional 3.0L direct-injected V-6, and is expected to deliver 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway. Final fuel economy estimates, as well as additional vehicle details such as name and pricing, will be announced later.

Plug-in hybrid model
The Buick plug-in hybrid is expected to be the first commercially available plug-in hybrid SUV produced by a major automaker.

The Buick plug-in hybrid has the potential to achieve double the fuel economy of comparably-sized SUVs on short trips. This significant boost is achieved by combining a modified version of GM's proven 2-Mode Hybrid system with advanced lithium-ion battery cells and charging technology developed for GM's Voltec system, which will debut in the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle in late 2010.

"LG Chem - the supplier of our battery cells for the Volt - has also been selected to supply the lithium-ion cells for the new Buick plug-in hybrid, and its Troy, Mich.-based subsidiary Compact Power will supply the pack," Stephens said.

The Buick plug-in hybrid will use the same manganese-spinel based chemistry and polymer battery cells as the Volt. The 8 kwh battery - containing half the energy of the Volt battery pack - will be packaged in a rectangular-shaped box under the cargo floor.

The lithium-ion battery can be fully recharged in four to five hours by simply connecting the vehicle to any standard 110V household electrical outlet. By recharging rather than refueling, the Buick plug-in hybrid significantly improves fuel economy and reduces petroleum use. In early testing, the plug-in hybrid is capable of electric-only propulsion for more than 10 miles at low speeds.

On the road, GM's 2-Mode plug-in hybrid system can use any combination of electric or gasoline engine power to move the vehicle, depending on the driving conditions. This differs from GM's Voltec technology, which provides the Volt with up to 40 miles of emissions- and petroleum-free electric-only propulsion, and an overall range of more than 300 miles with its flex-fuel engine-generator.

In addition to the lithium-ion battery pack, the Buick plug-in hybrid's powertrain features two powerful electric motors, sophisticated electronic controls and battery management systems and an efficient direct-injected 3.6L V-6 flex-fuel engine.

About General Motors: General Motors Company, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 235,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors Company acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors Company can be found at www.gm.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      stop with the whine, I hate Saturn leaving but the Saturn Vue is def a well built strong heavy car, most heavy cars are due to having a lot of engineering and build quality behind them alas Land Rover and the likes...I personally hate driving tin cans with engines.....
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ok... re-badge of the Vue?
      • 6 Years Ago
      No one complains when the same is done with Toyota and Lexus, Honda and Acura etc.
      I think its a great move. Saturn is going away this fall, why not keep a good looking CUV around?
      • 6 Years Ago
      If GM gives it a new interior, and revise the rear end, then it might work. The other choice would be to rebadge the GMC Terrain and that would be a nightmare since they would both be in the same show room. At least now Buick wont have to compete.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Predictably, the comments are filled with people taking shots at GM about rebadging based on what is obviously a Photoshop job that is obviously not going to look anything like the actual car. I see this time and time again here. You're all idiots.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well GM has to use photoshop, now, they can't afford otherwise.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Azn, you're talking about two very different markets and efforts. This PHEV is taking GM's established 2-mode technology and applying it to affordable compact vehicles and giving it a slightly larger battery to give it a 10 mi (or less) low-speed EV mode. The Toyota and Ford hybrid vehicles can only go a mile or two in EV mode at low speeds. Get above a certain speed and the engine will kick in just like on the Toyota and Ford hybrids. This vehicle is not meant to be driven as an EV all the time and at all speeds like the Volt. With the Vue PHEV, if you drive less than 10 miles and stay below 45 mph or so, you'll never use a drop of fuel.
        • 6 Years Ago
        stupid comments system....
      • 6 Years Ago
      They couldn't even reshape the headlights? Seriously?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think it's funny how two cars that share the same headlights, because that's all you can see in this pic are "recycled" but all of your comments being the same are somehow worthwhile. I guess the good news is, since they have sold about 8 Vue since they've been new, nobody but Autobloggers will know it's a rebadge.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why are you guys calling this a rebadge? This is like how Honda NSX became an Acura NSX in the US.

      GM no longer owns Saturn. So they re-using the VUE as a Buick. They won't (at least from this info) be offering the same car under two names, because they don't own Saturn anymore.

      Come on guys, give me a break. If you were in charge of a company and spent $100M designing a vehicle, would you abandon it or reuse it under a brand you still have? I think I know the answer.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You may be right, but Fritz said himself in regards to the G8 going to Pontiac, that "he was not a fan of re-badging." According to the boss's logic, that's exactly what they are doing here.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think if they would have spent more than $2 to change the look of this vehicle, people would be complaining a lot less. The Vue will have been on the market nearly 4 years (came out in 2007 as a 2008 model), which is about the time it should be getting at least refreshed styling. If they are going to position this to compete as an "all-new" model in the near-luxury market, they should give it a more unique look.

        And if they can turn a Saturn into a Buick, there's no reason not to turn a Pontiac into a Chevrolet. The G8 competes for different buyers than the Camaro and if they can make the Camaro meet future fuel economy standards, they can do the same to the G8.
      • 6 Years Ago
      if this buick is any thing like the new equinox in quality this will be a hit. peolpe still love the old rendezvous.
      • 6 Years Ago
      GM is just like Circuit City, even in bankruptcy they still don't get it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mr. Oak, it makes sense on a balance sheet, but buick, above all of the other brands, needs a big change in direction. The LaCrosse is in the right direction -- extremely competitive and a great value. This is in the wrong direction -- slapping a new badge on another brand's car.

        I understand where you are coming from, but at best this should have been a chevy -- not part of a brand that is trying to drastically reimagine itself.
        • 6 Years Ago
        ...and you do? This vehicle makes sense.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Here I thought GM was moving forward... I guess with every 2 steps forward, they still need to take one back.

      Nice to see 3 of us all had the same thought at the same time!

      Thumbs down GM.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Henry, I agree with you for the most part on your first two points, but:

        1) The Vue will be 4 years old by 2011 and facing fresh competition from the redesigned Escape/Mariner, RAV4, and Tuscon/Sportage; not to mention that the CR-V will likely be redesigned for 2012.

        2) All of the revised competition could or will offer hybrid models. Ford has already been looking at PHEV capability for the next-gen Escape/Mariner.

        3) GM will be under contract with Penske to produce Saturn vehicles through 2011 so they will still have a vested interest in the brand until then. Worse, this product could end up being sold as both a Saturn and Buick for almost 2 years if the Buick version debuts as an early 2011.

        4) The G8 and Camaro compete for very different customers and could successfully survive under the same brand. Given the fuel economy enhancements announced for the Commodore earlier today, the G8 wouldn't even be an issue for CAFE compared to the Impala.
        • 6 Years Ago
        How is this a step back? Seriously? A smaller premium crossover fits Buick's and GM's portfolio quite well. A plug-in hybrid variant caters to the upscale nature of hybrid buyers.

        If this announcement came from Lexus, folks would be praising it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's a step back in the sense of going back to re-badging. Plug-in tech is good.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's a step backward because it is clearly the non-luxury Saturn Vue being passed off as "near-luxury" by slapping a Buick grille on it. It's the old GM rebadging at it's best (worst?). It's no different than when they took the Olds Bravada and made it the Buick Rainier by changing the grille and headlights.

        Buick and Lexus don't even play in the same league, despite what GM wants you to think.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Forget about “rebadging” for one minute.
        1) Is the Vue a good product? Yes (not great, needs to lose a few pounds, but worth a test drive)
        2) Does it have something special to offer? Yes, multiple hybrid powertrains ready to go. A plug-in that’s been in development for years.
        3) How will this affect Saturn sales? GM doesn’t care once they complete the sale to Penske.
        4) Why didn’t GM do this for the G8? My guess is fuel economy and the exchange rate of the dollar killed the business plan. Plus it would cannibalize sales from the Camaro.
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