Wildcat EV concept pounces toward Buick's aggressive electric rollout
Much like other auto brands around the world, Buick is buckling down on its electrification program, with plans to go fully electric by the end of the decade. The 2018 Enspire and other previous concept cars have showed that the electric age should treat Buick styling quite well indeed, and the all-new Wildcat EV advances that storyline. Buick's newest electric concept might be its most striking yet, a taut sculpture that looks ready to lunge forth every bit as ferociously but beautifully as its namesake making dinner.
Buick has made something of a recent habit of creating concept cars that look far better than any production Buick we're used to seeing on the road, and the Wildcat EV is the latest member of that crew. If the Wildcat proves to be as meaningful a preview of the brand's plans as Buick suggests it is, electricity is going to bring some serious excitement to the redesigned triple shields.
New age, new logo: The Buick shields leap out of their circular prison and line up neatly beside each other on the nose and tail of Buick's latest show car. The new logo design signifies the start of a new era in styling and technology, and Buick says new models will begin wearing the updated branding next year.
Between those front and rear tri-shield logos, the Wildcat is one of those car designs that simply exemplifies pure, unfiltered motion. It's truly a big cat ready to pounce on its prey, the prey being whatever stretch of smooth, wide-open asphalt lies ahead. The long wheelbase, short rear overhang, wedge-shaped side volumes and fastback roofline merely enhance the feeling of a car that's all wound up and ready to surge out of sight.
Buick's design team paid particular attention to the front-end, better defining facial features out of the more abstractly sculpted front-end on the 2020 Electra concept. As on the Electra, a sturdy trapezoidal lower grille supports a sharp upper crease that curves its way into tucked side recesses below sharp headlamps. But this evolution features more detail in the grille area, fins and intakes, and razor-sharp micro-LED projector headlamps. It all comes together quite prettily. It might have a touch too much grille for the electric age, but we find the little goatee rather adorable, and the new badge looks handsome standing proudly over the neat nose crease.
The rear-end is arguably even more dramatic than the front thanks to the sharpened, oversized check-mark taillights that climb alongside the C-pillars next to the rear window. Another sharp crease creates a platform to highlight the new logo once again, and the quarter-moon-like center mass rolls into sharp quarter-panel legs to complete a very distinctive parting view.
Another design point that continues its evolution from the Electra concept is unconventional door design. Buick has augmented the usual dual swinging doors with lift-up roof panels that clear more headroom for smoother entry in and exit from the 2+2 interior. The cabin itself is a collection of typical concept car fare – weird, skeletal seats; serious digitization by way of digital instruments that flow directly into the center touchscreen, complemented by a lower console screen; a full-length center console that splits the two rows of seats; and "visually floating elements intended to accentuate the cabin’s lightweight feel and spaciousness."
Also quite typical of a forward-looking concept car, the Wildcat is loaded with paper tech like AI, biometrics, and a high heart rate-activated Zen Mode that dims lighting, kicks on seat massage and disperses aromatherapy.
The Wildcat EV is obviously electric, but Buick makes no mention of powertrain specs, real or imagined.
Along with the Wildcat EV, Buick also announced this week that it plans to bring its first electric vehicle to the North American market in 2024 on its way to developing an all-electric portfolio by the end of the decade. Electric Buick models may wear some of the Wildcat's handsome, high-speed looks but they'll carry the "Electra" nameplate.
"Our forthcoming products will adopt a new design language that emphasizes a sleek, dynamic and forward-looking appearance," said Sharon Gauci, executive director of Global Buick and GMC Design. "Our exteriors will incorporate fluid movements that contrast with tension to convey motion. Interiors will balance modern design, new technologies and attention to detail to evoke warmth and a rich sensory experience."
Buick's electric plans will be even more aggressive in China, where it plans to reveal two EVs this year and five by 2025. The new logo will also feature in China, but the market gets its own concept preview of the electric future via the Shanghai-designed, nearer-to-production Electra-X SUV. Based on GM's Ultium platform, the Electra-X is more subdued than the Wildcat or original Electra concepts but still quite striking and sporty. In fact, our first impression was that it looks more like a prettier Lotus SUV than a Buick. You can see more of Electra-X concept in the gallery.