Automotive

Buick sculpts another concept that looks way better than a Buick

Buick sculpts another concept ...
Buick says the Electra wears clean, minimalist styling inspired by a space capsule
Buick says the Electra wears clean, minimalist styling inspired by a space capsule
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The butterfly doors can be opened via facial recognition
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The butterfly doors can be opened via facial recognition
"'Breathing' front and rear Matrix LED lamps feature parametrical mathematic lighting strings with a three-dimensional effect," Buick says of the lighting design
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"'Breathing' front and rear Matrix LED lamps feature parametrical mathematic lighting strings with a three-dimensional effect," Buick says of the lighting design
Curved widescreen infotainment and retractable steering wheel
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Curved widescreen infotainment and retractable steering wheel
The Electra is something of a four-seat crossover GT
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The Electra is something of a four-seat crossover GT
Hovering elements create a zero gravity feel
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Hovering elements create a zero gravity feel
Buick's China-based design team loves to play around with wing doors
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Buick's China-based design team loves to play around with wing doors
Buick says the Electra wears clean, minimalist styling inspired by a space capsule
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Buick says the Electra wears clean, minimalist styling inspired by a space capsule
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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. This week brings us another visionary Buick head-turner in the Shanghai-designed Electra concept. The sporty butterfly-winged Electra shows what an edgy electric Buick crossover GT could look like (but probably won't resemble very closely at all).

The Electra highlights a new "potential energy" design language while bringing GM's intensified Ultium battery electric vehicle marketing push to the EV-hungry shores of China. The car comes powered by a front/rear-motored 583-hp electric drive that keeps the wheels spinning for up to 410 miles (660 km) per charge of its efficiently packaged Ultium battery. A 4.3-second 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) time is also within the concept's purported capabilities.

But the real story of the Electra concept is the styling niche Buick explores at the intersection of sporty four-seat crossover and lithe grand tourer. Despite its huge 23-in wheels tires, the Electra feels longer and slimmer than the typical crossover, its glasshouse dipping low and stretching out more like a sports sedan. The concept also wears many of the popular cues of electric concepts – the liquid metallic paint atop undulating body surfaces, the blade-like LED eyes and the glassy roof.

Buick relies successfully on a strong central crease, illuminated model badge against a contrast bumper, smooth indents below the headlamps and a long, thin intake around the Buick badge to establish a strong facial identity in the absence of a central grille. The Matrix LED headlamps feature a "breathing" illumination pattern for added personality.

Buick's China-based design team loves to play around with wing doors
Buick's China-based design team loves to play around with wing doors

Driver and passengers enter the Electra through the quartet of facial rec-unlocked butterfly doors. Given the efficient e-drive packaging and lack of B pillars, the interior is an open-space concept with plenty of leg and elbow room. Buick uses the generous amount of space to complement the winged bodyshell with an interior it fancies as something of a "space pod." The hovering widescreen driver display, retractable steering wheel and seats suspended via thin armatures create a feel of zero gravity, while the large glass roof provides intergalactic views.

The digital cockpit relies on a curved retina display to serve as the interface of the next-gen eConnect telematics system without a secondary infotainment or control screen. Also included are a head-up display with advanced live-view navigation and augmented reality and a next-gen AI voice assistant.

Curved widescreen infotainment and retractable steering wheel
Curved widescreen infotainment and retractable steering wheel

Upon arrival to a city center or sprawling office parking lot, drivers can pop the "floating skateboard" out from under the bumper and McFly their way that last mile to their destination. Or so Buick's design team imagines.

The Electra concept was developed as a global design by GM’s Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) before debuting in Shanghai this week.

Source: General Motors China

View gallery - 7 images
8 comments
Grunchy
There are two Buicks that should be brought back: that would be the '86 Regal and the '65 Riviera.
Whatever that thing is, forget about it, it's stupid.
bkwanab
That has to be one of the ugliest Buick concept cars ever. What happened? Did Buick hire an ex GAZ stylist? On a scale of 1 - 10 that car is a negative 15! Good grief!
spyinthesky
86Regal and 65Riviera, now that would be a sure way to destroy the company. Nothing wrong with loving 'vintage' cars I love many myself, but thinking that they are relevant to modern mass production success in the market place is really off the chart of delusion Im afraid.
Warky1
What has happened to the automobile world is very disconcerting to a lot of people including myself. The entire SUV market is ridiculous. What, because someone somewhere thought an SUV might be handy to go to the supermarket? It's stupid. All cars these days regardless of the manufacturer, look the same, no imagination in design. Although I'm sure technology is much more reliable these days, gone are the days when as kids we used to wait for the new cars to come out for the upcoming year every September with, usually, a completely different look than last years' model. Those were the days when cars were cars days we will undoubtedly never see again and that is a damned shame.
Daishi
It's like the people that build production vehicles at Buick and the people that build concept cars at Buick work at 2 entirely different companies. Being a concept car designer at companies like this would have to be a dream job. You just build cool concepts in a vacuum and when you are done you go do the next cool thing.
Username
As far as Buick's history I like the Reata.
a.l.
This may be the ugliest damn car I've ever seen.
PassingBy2
What a great car to be hit by! No being thrown back over the bonnet, then rolling off the bonnet onto the road, head first, then taking a week to die in agony of internal injuries, like the *three* people have had to put up that sort of thing in the past, seen by me three separate times.
No.
Here's a car that will slice you neatly & cleanly in two, so you will be dead before you feel the injury. How thoughtful is that?
In fact, it looks as if they have built in blood-gutters just under the knife edge, so there's none of that yuckie commoner's blood on your windscreen.
So thoughtful. Dare I say what an iconic US design?