A few months ago at the Guangzhou Motor Show, Buick unveiled the Velite concept that – contrary to expectations – emerged with completely original sheetmetal. The production version, however, looks poised to repackage the Chevy Volt for the Chinese market.
Previewed in this teaser image, the forthcoming Buick Velite looks (from what we can see) almost identical to the existing Chevy, save for the badges and nameplate. But the accompanying details suggest there are some mechanical (or electrical) changes afoot beneath the skin.
GM says the Velite will employ a 1.5-liter internal-combustion engine paired with a permanent-magnet electric motor – just like the Volt. The powertrain is also specified to use an “electronic controlled intelligent variable transmission” – which is different terminology from the Chevy’s complex Voltec transaxle, and could indicate a different transmission is in store.
Either way, the Velite is already boasting increased range over the Volt – over 100 kilometers (62 miles) on electric power alone, and 750 km (466 miles) with the range-extender kicking in, compared to the 53 and 420 miles respectively quoted for the Chevy. Whether that comes down to a difference in local standards or an upgrade in equipment, we don’t know. But if there’s some improvement here, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it integrated into an upgraded Volt for other markets (like North America) as well.
Buick refers to the Velite 5 as an “extended range electric vehicle,” and says it plans to introduce “plug-in hybrid electric vehicles” (as well as battery electric vehicles) in the coming two years in China. That leaves us scratching our heads a bit since the extended-range and plug-in terms are almost entirely interchangeable, but the bottom line is that there will be more hybrids and EVs coming to Buick’s Chinese lineup in the near future.