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Buick could be the next GM brand with Volt technology

General Motors’ innovative Voltec drivetrain combines emission-free electric driving with a range extending gasoline generator to give driver’s the best of the electric and hybrid worlds, with the technology making its debut in the Chevy Volt followed by the European Opel Ampera and according to Bloomberg, Buick could be the next GM brand to offer a car with the Voltec drivetrain.

Bloomberg is reporting that two individuals familiar with the project have told them that Buick is working on building their own version of the Chevrolet Volt, reportedly based on the European Opel Ampera. According to these unnamed insiders, designers and engineers have been working with the Ampera, adding a Buick-specific grille and styling. It is interesting that Bloomberg specifies that Buick is working on an Ampera with Buick front end styling, considering that the Ampera is really nothing more than a Chevy Volt with Opel-specific front end styling.

In any case, this news from Bloomberg doesn’t come as a huge surprised as CEO Dan Akerson has previously stated that he expects to see a Voltec-powered vehicle offered by each of the four US-domestic brands. The Buick brand is typically more upscale than Chevrolet so when the Buick version of the Volt drops, we can expect it to have a more luxurious interior along with the brand specific exterior but they will also need to consider two items. First, they cannot pack the Buick too full of new goodies as they can only afford to increase the price so much over the Volt’s $41,000 MSRP and they don’t want future models to continue being unprofitable. Second, they need to leave room for a Cadillac derivative of the Volt, which has been rumored since day 1 of the Volt since the higher price demands of the Cadillac brand would afford GM a much better chance of profitability from Voltec-based vehicles.

The other side of the coin is the importance for GM to change the Volt or Ampera enough so that the Buick model stands apart from the Volt in the US market. In the past, General Motors (and other brands) have been accused of “brand engineering”…meaning that they are offering “new” models that are no different than others in the corporate family shy of some different badging. The Chevrolet Volt comes pretty heavily loaded so it may be tough for the Buick people to offer a vehicle that fits comfortably between the Chevrolet and upcoming Cadillac Voltec vehicles but when the Buick version of the Volt arrives in 2013 or 2014 we can expect a more luxurious take on the Chevy Volt for US buyers.

Source: Bloomberg

Other GM News:
Buick LaCrosse with eAssist on par with highway fuel economy of compacts
General Motors talks up the Corvette ZR1 in a new ad
Chinese Chevrolet Camaro to debut at the Auto Shanghai 2011 with a new name
General Motors unveils the next generation Chevrolet Colorado
Chevy Volt owners reporting positive gas mileage stories

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