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Currently available on three models, GM’s eAssist technology is a product and packaging gamble the automaker has made that does not appear to be paying off. While the first two Buick models to receive the mild-hybrid system received modest praise, the new Chevy Malibu Eco has drawn so much criticism it was recently named “the most disliked vehicle of 2012” according to Fortune magazine.
The impact of that title, not to mention all the bad press that’s led up to it, can’t be understated. The reputation, and sales, of an entire lifecycle of Malibu models (the Malibu being one of GM’s largest volume products) is hanging in the balance.
Buick has announced pricing for their newest additions to the Regal lineup, with their Regal eAssist mild hybrid vehicle starting at $29,530, while the high performance Regal GS starts at $35,310.
The Regal eAssist uses a stripped down regenerative braking system to deliver hybrid-like fuel efficiency gains without the weight or added complexity of a full hybrid system. Fuel economy numbers aren’t quite as high as other full hybrids, but the vehicle still manages to deliver 25 mpg in town and 36 mpg on the highway.
The Regal GS offers a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. Despite early concept vehicles that were displayed with all-wheel drive, the Regal GS is front-drive only, but also adds adjustable damping, upgraded brakes, a 19″ wheel and tire package and a harmon/kardon stereo system. The Regal GS is also expected to deliver 27 mpg on the highway.
Helping change the image of Buick, the new Regal is a different sort of car from what we’re used to from the old-man brand and that’s because it’s actually based on the very German Opel Insignia. Already available as a 4-cylinder and a Turbo model, current Regal models are made in Germany alongside their Opel counterparts. That will change next month, however, when production of the car is moved to the Oshawa Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada.
In addition to the current two versions, Buick is set to add two new models to the lineup, including the high-performance Regal GS and the Regal eAssist mild-hybrid. With a 26/37-mpg rating, the Regal eAssist will be the first hybrid ever manufacturer in Canada.
“The award-winning Buick Regal is proof of this company’s capabilities on the car side of the business, and the addition of the Regal with eAssist shows just how serious we are about offering consumers a range of sophisticated powertrain options from green to mean,” said Kevin Williams, president and managing director of General Motors of Canada. “Integrating such advanced fuel-saving technology into our Oshawa Assembly Plant is a natural fit given the plant’s flexible manufacturing system and its longstanding quality leadership, and we’re proud to lead the way in terms of green technology production in Canada.”
The Oshawa Assembly Plan already builds the Chevrolet Camaro and Chevy Impala.
The Regal eAssist will go on sale in the U.S. and Canada this Fall.
The fastest growing brand in America last year, Buick is looking to expand its offerings with a new eAssist mild-hybrid version of its new Regal model. Introduced just prior to the Chicago Auto Show the car will sit at the opposite end of the spectrum from the 255-hp Regal GS when it comes to fuel consumption. It will not, however, sit completely opposite in the lineup from the priciest model.
While Buick is making eAssist standard in the new LaCrosse, the Buick team made the decision to continue to offer a base 4-cylinder version of the Regal. That being said, the Regal will now be offered as a 4-cylinder, eAssist 4-cylinder, Turbo and high-performance GS model.
Shying away from the built-in assumptions of calling it a hybrid, the eAssist system is being marketed as simply describing what it does, with an electric assist to help improve fuel economy. The results are impressive with a 26/37-mpg rating for the car, thanks to the compact electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. Compared to the old mild-hybrid system GM used in vehicles like the Malibu, this unit is 40 percent lighter, 30 percent smaller and 25 percent more powerful.
Inside the car gets a new 7-inch touch-screen display to help the driver monitor their driving habits. That screen will also now be standard equipment on all Regal models starting in 2012.
GALLERY: 2012 Buick Regal eAssist
See the official release afte the jump:
While GM’s announcement of a new car based on the Camaro platform being shown at the Chicago Auto Show stole the spotlight in the automotive press, the Buick Regal eAssist represents a product far more relevant to the average consumer, even if it’s less glamorous.
With an eAssist hybrid system from the Buick Lacrosse, the Regal delivers excellent mileage for a mid-size sedan, returning 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. A 15 horsepower electric motor helps to assist during acceleration and also allows for regenerative braking, and a start/stop system.
On the aesthetic front, lightweight 17″ wheels, a 7-inch screen for keeping track of fuel economy and other data, as well as an eco model for the air conditioning all make an appearance only on the eAssist. While the Lacrosse eAssist will be positioned as an entry level trim within the range, the Regal variant will simply complement the other versions, including the Regal Turbo and Regal GS.
Gallery: Buick Regal eAssist
General Motors will reportedly unveil a Buick Regal Hybrid at the Chicago Auto Show that uses similar eAssist technology seen on the its Lacrosse stablemate.
With the Lacrosse capable of returning 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, a 25 percent boost in fuel economy. eAssist also provides an extra 15 horsepower and 79 lb-ft of torque to GM’s 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft 2.4L 4-cylinder. While the Lacrosse has eAssist as standard, the Regal’s Hybrid model will likely be a flagship, along with the upcoming Regal GS for customers who want something a bit spicier.
[Source: Ward's Auto]
For more information on the Buick Regal, such as specifications, news, prices, safety information and more, please see http://www.regalforums.com/.