The fourth global concept car developed by the Shanghai GM and Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) joint ventures, the Buick Riviera emulates the form of moving water. The concept designed for the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show is powered by a plug-in hybrid system that can be recharged wirelessly.

Wireless plug-in vehicle charging isn't entirely novel. A number of companies and research entities are working on wireless charging systems that could simplify charging by offering it in parking spaces and even while driving.

In the Buick Riviera, the system is called W-PHEV (wireless plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) and uses a "sensory recharge panel" on the chassis. This is a pretty out-there concept by the looks of it, and GM didn't feel the need to elaborate on that system any further. The concept is equipped for all-electric and fuel-electric hybrid driving, but Buick doesn't specify what type of muscle is behind the effort, nor does it go into any detail on the "intelligent four-wheel steering" system.

What GM does spend some time expounding upon is the car's radical styling. The Shanghai team put its own twist on the "moving while standing still" cliché, pulling inspiration from the Chinese saying "the greatest good is like water." Aspects of the design that hint at its hydro-inspired character include the three-dimensionally styled sides that mimic ocean waves frozen in time and a greater aesthetic that "goes from thick to thin" like a raging rapid calming and thinning into a clear, still pool.

Other interesting elements of the Riviera exterior include the gullwing doors, wing-like daytime running lights and reimagined waterfall grille. We're guessing the gullwings have no future, but Buick says outright that the light and grille design will influence future production styling. A raked windshield, 14-degree fastback and metallic fiber spoiler give the Riviera what Buick defines generally as a low drag coefficient. Active grille shutters, diffusers and active pneumatic wheels help the Riviera fight skillfully against the momentum-sapping air molecules ahead.

"The new Riviera offers a preview of Buick’s future design language," said Shanghai GM President Ye Yongming. "By seamlessly integrating advanced technologies, flexible functions and contemporary aesthetics, the new Riviera heralds the start of a new chapter for the 110-year-old Buick brand.”

Driver meets machine in what Buick calls a 360-degree integrated design, which we assume refers to the airy, open space created by the rear bench seating and floating front seats. The interior is outfitted with aluminum alloy, lava suede and ebony, helping to create a look nostalgic of traditional Chinese jade-inlaid wood. The driver position is simplified with stripped controls and a centrally mounted digital speedometer with bright blue illumination. Rear passengers are separated by a more defined rear center console than is typical of passenger cars.

Buick leverages the 4G LTE integration of the future, giving the Riviera intelligence capabilities like real-time-traffic and weather updates, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and traditional infotainment features. The concept also has an advanced forward monitoring system that utilizes 10 high-resolution cameras and 18 micro high-precision sensors to monitor traffic information and display it via a holographic image on the windshield.

Take the full tour of the Riviera concept in the photo gallery and let us know what you think.

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