Buick trademarks Electra name - is it a Volt derivative or a new flagship?
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The Buick Electra name made its debut in 1959 and between that first year and 1990, the Electra was Buick’s flagship luxury model with forms including coupes, convertibles and sedans. These cars were massive in their glory years although the final generation of the Electra from 1985 to 1990 was a much smaller front wheel drive model (yet it still preserved the premium attitude). The Electra name resurfaced in 2008 when General Motors was considering reviving the name for European use on the Opel and Vauxhall versions of the Chevrolet Volt but in the long run – GM went with the name Ampera for the Euro-Volts.
History would lead one to believe that a modern Buick Electra would be a range-topping flagship model – most likely a sedan. Even though the classic Electra was offered in both two- and four-door configurations, we would expect that a modern Buick flagship would be a sedan; possibly based on the same architecture as the Cadillac XTS and the upcoming Chevrolet Impala. The Buick brand offers models that sit between the affordable Chevrolet models and the high end Cadillac models so a new Buick Electra could offer more luxury and more amenities than the 2014 Chevrolet Impala while leaving some room (both in standard equipment and in price) for the new Cadillac XTS. This Electra sedan would effectively outrank the Buick LaCrosse that currently serves as the top of the line model from GM’s affordable luxury brand. Unfortunately for Buick lovers who dream of a modern premium Electra, if there is a new range-topping Buick sedan on the way, with no news to that effect thus far it would likely be a few years before this model hit showrooms.
The next possibility is that the new Buick Electra could be unique badged (and hopefully skinned) version of the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle. Cadillac is reportedly planning to launch a new electric coupe powered by the drivetrain of the Chevy Volt but with that high end electric vehicle being a two-door model, there is room in the GM lineup for a more premium version of the Chevy Volt. GM opted not to use the Electra name for the European versions of the Volt – perhaps keeping it in their pocket for use on a more luxurious sedan based on the Volt. A Buick Electra powered by the Voltec drivetrain would likely feature more goodies than the Volt along with a plusher interior – along with a higher price. This would satiate those prospective Volt buyers who want a “nicer Volt” but who do not want the smaller two-door Cadillac ELR.
The last (positive) possibility is that the Buick Electra name will arrive on some new concept vehicle destined for the auto show circuit at first with less intention of production use. Concept vehicles generally have the possibility of ending up in production so should GM introduce a Buick Electra Concept as either a premium flagship sedan or a new electric Buick with a range extending gasoline engine – we could be looking at the first step towards the new Electra production model.
The other angle to consider here is that automakers frequently trademark names simply to protect competitors from using that name so GM may be looking to trademark the Buick Electra name to ensure that it doesn’t show up on a vehicle from another automaker. If this is the case, there may not be a new Buick Electra in the works at all and it is not at all uncommon for an automaker to trademark a name with no intention of ever using it on a production vehicle. Just last month, General Motors filed a trademark for the Buick Riviera name (click here for a look at the Riviera trademark) so GM could be looking to expand the Buick lineup – or they could just be snatching up historic Buick names to prevent other automakers from using them.