Word was leaked yesterday about a Buick version of the Chevrolet Volt being developed by GM.
The vehicle would be a more luxurious version of the already fairly upscale Volt, according to a report by Bloomberg.
This would make a fourth nameplate to carry a very similar platform. Already in Germany, Opel is showing its Volt-based Ampera, and in the UK, Vauxhall is preparing an Ampera as well.
The technology GM bases these cars on is called “Voltec,” and its development set GM back around $1 billion. It couples electric motors with a 1.4-liter gasoline-powered generator. A 16 kWh lithium-ion battery provides motive power for the electric drive.
The Volt car can travel in EV mode for about 35-50 miles, and early adopters have been reporting hundreds of miles traveled using little or no gasoline. GM’s CEO Dan Akerson has said it would develop other cars on four GM brands. If approved, it could be hit production by 2013.
According to Jim Hall, principal of 2953 Analytics in Birmingham, Mich., he has yet to see what can be done. “The Volt is already well-equipped,” Hall told Bloomberg. “It’s missing power seats and that’s about it. What else can you add to make it a premium car?”
Some ways an upscale version could be done would be to use lighter, more sophisticated materials to give more range to the car. Whether any changes would be made to the power train, such as a larger battery, is anyone’s guess.
Another analyst Bloomberg interviewed said she did not fully see the reasoning. “Why are they badge engineering?” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive, a research firm based in Lexington, Massachusetts. “The Ampera really is just the Volt.”
A GM spokesman would offer no comment on the Buick plans. The company wants to sell the Chevrolet Volt quickly. It says it is on target with its new-tech car roll out, and plans to build 10,000 this year, and 45,000 next year. It sells for $41,000 before a $7,500 federal tax incentive.