Buick is reportedly the next recipient of Chevrolet’s ‘Voltec’ range-extended electric car platform, with news surfacing this week that GM’s mid-level luxury brand will get its own version of the Opel Ampera. Buick, you may recall, is already selling a rebadged Opel in the form of the mid-size Regal sedan, which is essentially an Insignia under another name, and in the future it may also feature the Ampera.
GM has always insisted that its Voltec platform would be used in a number of different models beyond the Volt, and now Bloomberg, citing inside sources, is reporting that designers are already working on adding Buick styling to the Ampera. Key features are said to include a Buick-style grille and new bumpers.
If given the full go-ahead, the new Buick range-extended electric car is reportedly destined for sale in 2013.
Opel Ampera cutaway
The Opel Ampera’s positioning in Europe is higher than that of the Chevrolet Volt here in the U.S., but the two cars are virtually the same minus some styling differences. The major hurdle for GM now is to differentiate a more expensive Buick version of the Ampera from the already well-equipped Volt, which sells for $41,000 before a federal tax incentive of $7,500.
One way would be to use more advanced materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber to reduce the weight of the Buick version of the Ampera, and thus improve performance. However, the same inside sources have said that the Buick version may not be all that different as GM is keen to start sales of its new range-extended electric car quickly.
Note that next month will also see the debut of a Buick plug-in hybrid concept car at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show, a teaser of which you can view by clicking here. It’s not known whether a production version of this concept car is planned, though with these latest insider comments it’s entirely possible.