Speaking at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan, today, Vice Chairman of Product Sevelopment Tom Stephens announced Buick will receive a yet-to-be-named crossover that will launch in 2010 as a 2011 model. The crossover will initially be powered by direct-injected engines, but by 2011 a plug-in hybrid version will be offered. It appears that GM is essentially dumping the Saturn Vue’s product cycle into Buick’s queue, since Saturn is on its way out of the GM stables.
GM’s 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder will power the “new” crossover at launch, and is expected to deliver 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway. When the plug-in hybrid version launches in 2011, GM says it is expected to be the first commercially available plug-in hybrid SUV.
The plug-in hybrid will combine a modified version of GM’s 2-Mode Hybrid system and charging technology from the Voltec system. LG Chem, GM’s chosen supplier for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt battery cells, will also supply the lithium-ion cells for the Buick crossover. GM claims the battery can be fully recharged in four to five hours when connected to a standard 110-volt household electrical outlet. In early testing, GM says the vehicle can go more than 10 miles at low speeds on electric-only propulsion.
In addition to the lithium-ion battery pack, the Buick’s powertrain also includes two electric motors and a 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 flex fuel engine.
“Buick has always been at the forefront of new technology, so it is only fitting that the brand should debut our new plug-in hybrid technology in a beautiful new crossover,” Stephens said.
GM did not indicate whether the photo included with its official press release, which is quite obviously a Saturn VUE with a Buick grille, was a prototype or a rendering of what the vehicle will actually look like. GM CEO Fritz Henderson said earlier this year that he is “not a fan of rebadging” vehicles, explaining why the Pontiac G8–an Australian Holden–would not be ported over to Chevrolet once Pontiac is phased out.