Due to an old-school system used in China that requires automakers to file patents or risk having vehicles copied by others, we've learned that the Chevrolet Volt may very well debut in the world's largest automotive market as a Buick model and not one bearing the Chevy or Opel badge. When General Motors filed its patent for China, it submitted the Voltec-powered Opel Ampera and not the Chevy Volt, indicating that the version coming to China will definitely not bear a Golden Bowtie. So why not an Opel then? Well, Opel has virtually no name recognition in China, leaving the obvious choice of branding the Voltec-powered vehicle as a Buick, GM's best performing brand over there.
Perhaps it only makes sense that the Ampera will be sold under the Buick name in China as various other Opel products have been rebranded as Buicks once they've reached the Chinese mainland. The Opel Astra transformed into the Buick Excelle and the Insignia switched over to the Buick Regal in China. So what will the Opel Ampera become once it reaches China early next year? Will it simply be the Buick Ampera, or something else altogether? Should we start a naming contest on this one?
For what it's worth, assuming that there will be a Chinese Buick Volt, it will become the fifth Voltec model, joining the 2011 Chevy Volt, Opel/Vauxhall Ampera and Holden Ampera, all of which will initially be produced at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan. Now we're just waiting for the Voltec-powered Daewoo model for the Korean market so that GM can call it a done deal.