Is Buick bringing back the Electra nameplate?

GM China concept car wears a famous Buick badge

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Buick Electra concept
Buick unveils the Electra concept in China, where the car was designed and where Buick is a major brand | GM China photos

Car enthusiasts in North American might have lamented when General Motors pulled the plug on Oldsmobile, and then on Pontiac, especially since the Buick brand was being retained. But Buick was and is a big deal in the huge Chinese automotive marketplace, and that helped save it.

This week in Shanghai, General Motors China unveiled a new Buick concept car with a name familiar to brand fans back in North America. 

1960 Buick Electra 225 convertible

“Today, Buick’s innovative thinking and imagination of future intelligent mobility have reached the next level with the Electra,” said Sam Basile, executive vice president of SAIC-GM. “I am confident that the aesthetics and technology innovations reflected on the Electra will ultimately help reset consumers’ expectations, just as all previous Buick concepts have done.”

“Adopting the new ‘potential energy’ design, the Electra emphasizes clean and bold styling with seamless integrated technology,” according to GM China. “It comes with a new-generation electric propulsion system and the advanced Ultium battery, along with a variety of connected and intelligent driving technologies, demonstrating Buick’s ongoing evolution toward the future of personal mobility.”

The company added that the car’s styling shows “forward-looking design inspired by a space capsule.”

“Buick sculpts another concept that looks way better than a Buick,” was the headline on the unveiling on the tech-oriented newatlas.com website, which asked:

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“Do Buick designers actually look at Buick vehicles before getting shoulder deep in concept car design? Because from the looks of recent efforts like the Avista two-door, Riviera and Enspire, they most definitely do not. Which is just fine because Buick concept cars look decades better than the anonymous office park commuters that fill Buick’s dealer lots any given model year.”

Unlike the Electras of Buick’s past, this new concept is a crossover-style vehicle. The car was designed as a global project by GM’s Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, an engineering and design facility in Shanghai.

Seats appear to be suspended above rather than attached to the floor
Curved dashboard appears to float and steering wheel retracts

“Combining the athletic look of a four-seat crossover with Gran Turismo aesthetics, the Electra previews Buick’s next-generation design language for electric vehicles,” GM China said.

GM China said with the Ultium battery, the Electra accelerate to 62 mph in 4.3 seconds and would have a range of more than 660 kilometers (more than 340 miles).

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

4 COMMENTS

    • Before you make a statement like that, I would suggest you drive one.
      If you feel they are an old man’s car, think about the GSX, GNX, the Stage One, Reatta, 63 Riviera, Wildcat and the turbo coupes of the 80’s. Also hot rodders always lusted over Buick Brakes because they were the best. “Try it you’ll like it”.

  1. I was hoping for a big sedan like the Electra used to be. I’m not buying a Crossover built in China. Time to pull the plug on GM!

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