Buick Velite 6 to come in PHEV, electric versions for China

The battery-electric version is set to launch at a later date

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In addition to the all-electric Enspire crossover concept revealed this week ahead of the Beijing Auto Show, Buick is adding a new production variant to its Velite series of electrified vehicles for China. It's called the Velite 6, a plug-in hybrid that will launch this year in Buick's largest market. A full-electric version, shown in the lead photo above at right, is coming later.

Buick already sells a vehicle called a Velite 5 in China, which is essentially a rebadged Chevrolet Volt, only with a higher electric-only driving range. This one is based on the Velite concept PHEV introduced in late 2016 at Auto Guangzhou. The PHEV and battery-electric versions look nearly identical, with a wide stance, plenty of creases and a hatchback design that bears some similarities to the longer 2018 Regal TourX wagon.

The Velite 6 uses two AC permanent-magnet synchronous motors, a lithium-ion battery and a 1.5-liter four-cylinder combustion engine. Buick says combined gas-electric driving range is 435 miles, which is 15 miles greater than the Volt. Buick will assemble what it calls the "new-generation" ternary battery pack at its new SAIC-GM Power Battery Development Center in Shanghai. The company says the Velite 6 electric vehicle "will adopt a new-generation pure electric drive system to offer customers a smooth, quiet and natural driving experience."

Both models get the cloud-based Buick eConnect technology, which allows over-the-air software updates, real-time integration with China's WeChat social media network, and other digital perks. Owners will also be able to use their smartphone as the vehicle's key, and they can also authorize others to use the car through their phones.

China has long been Buick's largest market, with more than 1.18 million vehicles sold in 2017 compared to just 219,231 in the U.S., and the country has established aggressive mandates for production of electric vehicles. GM has plans to add 20 new electric and fuel-cell vehicles globally by 2023.

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