Chevrolet Volt Arrives In China As Buick Velite?

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 47

Buick Velite

Buick Velite (via Autohome – Chinese)

Buick Velite

Buick Velite (via Autohome – Chinese)

According to reports coming out of China, Shanghai General Motors is prepping a more luxurious version of the Chevrolet Volt to sell in China.

The vehicle will be sold under GM’s highly successful (in China, at least) Buick brand and will sport the name Velite. This name was reportedly applied to a previous 2004 Buick concept car.

Via Autohome which issued the above photos on the Buick

“Recently, from the latest issue of the Ministry of Cars (China) directory, informed us that Shanghai GM Buick has declared a new extended-range plug-in hybrid car (SGM7158DACHEV).  The car is a new model, equipped with a 1.5L engine hybrid and electric system consisting of 100 kilometers official combined consumption of 0.9L.”

As AutoVerdict reports:

“This filing by Shanghai GM showcases very clearly the Chevrolet Volt’s body with the Buick tri-shield badge, and yes, the name on the rear appears to be Velite.”

The Velite will feature all of the same powertrain components as the Volt, but will have a slightly modified appearance and interior trimmings will be more in line with the Buick brand.

Update (Sept 23):  This Shanghai-GM joint venture project will apparently debut at the Guangzhou Auto Show in December, and will be made available to purchase in early 2017.

Hat tip to Teng Yang!

Source: AutoVerdict

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47 responses to "Chevrolet Volt Arrives In China As Buick Velite?"

  1. ClarksonCote says:

    Interesting, so will this be built in the US and exported to China? If so, doesn’t that result in a whole lot of import tariffs which reduce competitiveness of this vehicle in that market?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      This is built in China by the Shanghai-GM joint venture for early 2017, it just didn’t have a name before this.

      (and I should probably do an update on the story to reflect this info, lol…will do that now).

      The original Volt was as you note had all kinds of headwinds – from import costs, to tariffs, to lack of domestic incentives, to being branded a Chevy. GM sold very, very few (retailed at almost $80k in equivalent US dollars). The quote du jour on the subject was via Ray Bierzynski (GM’s head of EV strategy in China), stating the first gen was “very low volume.”

      Hard to say if GM just put out the first gen Volt in China as a “look at me” project, but this product (as well as the CT6 plug-in) are a different animal altogether – they want/plan to actually sell them and turn a profit.

      1. taser54 says:

        I guess GM is no longer worried that China will steal the Voltec technology.

        1. Yogurt says:

          Chinas joint ventures have gotten very little technology transfer from the foreign brands so far…
          The JVs are mainly contract manufactures at this point…

          https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-06-27/china-s-carmakers-need-some-tough-love-to-grow-strong

          1. speculawyer says:

            Well yeah . . . they joint manufacture.

            And then 2 years later another factory appears and is making something spookily close to the joint venture.

            1. Yogurt says:

              I think it is Chinas other auto copoanies and not the joint ventures who generally make clones as far as looks…
              But they dont have the engine and transmission tech of big auto…
              Electrics are a threat to big auto because they dont have 100 years of tech know how so startups are starting even in yhe drivetrain space…
              The longer big auto takes to dominate electrics the more vunerable they become to the start ups…

              1. Kdawg says:

                “Electrics are a threat to big auto because they dont have 100 years of tech know how”
                ——–
                GM has been working with electric motors since 1918.

      2. ClarksonCote says:

        Hi Jay, does this mean it will be 100% assembled in China? Or is there a chance they do something sneaky like “final assembly” there?

        It just seems surprising to do all the same tooling etc. there if it is as identical to the Volt as shown. Although, maybe that’s just the cost of doing business in China. Which, I’ll add, makes me angry given how much we import from them.

  2. jelloslug says:

    I’m interested to see if GM actually changes the interior at all.

  3. Michael Will says:

    V-lite ? 🙂

    1. Kdawg says:

      I see what you did there.

    2. ffbj says:

      A unit in the Roman army, Velites.

  4. Kdawg says:

    Batteries still from LG?

  5. speculawyer says:

    Sure, why not? For some unknown reason, Buick is a well-respected brand in China. Go Figure.

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      It should be respected here as well.

      Consumer Report rank it as the domestic brand with best reliability at #7 overall.

      But somehow US buyers still associate “old” with Buick so they don’t set foot in the door regardless of GM ads.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        In my opinion, the problem is Buick’s distinctive grille. That fairly screams “grandma car” to anyone looking at one, even before you’re close enough to see the badge.

        Sure, that’s judging superficially by looks, rather than by value, utility, features, or comfort. But then, Americans do that quite a lot when looking at, and buying, cars.

        Perhaps Buick would do better, at least with U.S. sales, if they’d get rid of that distinctive grille.

        1. ModernMarvelFan says:

          I disagree.

          Nobody bought any Toyota for its “looks” for sure. So it doesn’t matter.

          It is all about image. The image with Buick is “old people car” which will take decades to cure.

          In China, there is no image of “old people drive Buick”. That is why it did just fine.

    2. Mark says:

      Chairman Mao had Buicks. They’re a status symbol in China.

  6. Yogurt says:

    Buick is a solid second in sales to VW but they double Buick…

    Not unknown… Buicks were big in China pre commie days and are high quality compared to China brands…

  7. Owen says:

    I’d buy one

  8. georgeS says:

    So GM decided to make it a Buick so it would sell. Not a bad idea.

    Why didn’t they do that in the US?

    1. Kdawg says:

      I still think they should make a Buick version for the US, and a GMC version, and another plug-in Caddy.. and so forth.

      1. QCO says:

        Or bring the Opel brand into North America. Most of the GM smaller cars come from the European division anyway.

        The Opel logo even has a lightning bolt built in – hard to see how the marketeers missed that one.

        Unlike Ford (and just about everyone else), GM has never really created a global brand. That must work against them in the modern age of globalisation.

  9. Just_Chris says:

    Interesting, since Australia signed a free trade agreement with China can we have a v-lite Buick here for a reasonable price? or are we limited to Great Wall Utes and suv’s?

    1. Kdawg says:

      Will the steering wheel be on the opposite side?

    2. ModernMarvelFan says:

      Not until you switch your steering wheel to the left side. =)

  10. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Interesting. I read an opinion piece once, which suggested that the Chevy brand is a poor fit for the Volt, and that it should be re-branded a Buick, because the Volt is considerably more expensive than most of Chevy’s offerings.

    And I’d say ditto for the Bolt.

    But then, I’m of the opinion that GM should create a new badge for its PEVs (Plug-in EVs), or perhaps revive the Pontiac badge. Giving the PEVs their own separate dealerships would eliminate the problem of most stealerships wanting to “steer” customers into buying a gasmobile rather than a PEV.

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      The Chevy Brand specifically funded the development of those EVs.

      At GM, the brands are marketing teams that funds R&D and manufacturing of the products.

      Buick as a brand isn’t powerful enough to fund the EV development alone.

      Also, Chevy wants to use EV to attract future/new buyers to its brand. It doesn’t want to become a “truck only” brand like Dodge.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        You seem to be suggesting that for GM, having different badges is a limitation or a liability, not an advantage. This simply isn’t true. For example, GM has factories which specialize in making parts, and I think even entire gas engines, used in various badged GM cars.

        Taking money out of one pocket (Chevrolet) and putting it into another (Buick) — or vice versa — shouldn’t be especially difficult for GM’s bean-counters, since they do that on a regular basis.

        1. ModernMarvelFan says:

          I just explained how GM is organized.

          GM is organized by brand organization. Chevy, GMC, Buick and Cadillac. Each one is a marketing and service organization.

          Underneath, there is a manufacturing group, R&D group which separates into Power Train, Chassis, Truck, structures and advanced technology.

          When a brand needs a new car, it has to fund the R&D and tooling of that platform. As other brand join it to get a version for their brand, the cost of development will be shared. Also, manufacturing cost will be lower as well if they are built on the same platform at the same plant.

          So, the initial platform development has to be paid by a group. That is why some models are unique to only some brands not others.

          That is how GM operates. EVs were viewed as something important for Chevy’s future (sooner for Chevy than other brands). So, that is why Chevy spearheaded its development. Of course, it has to be signed off by GM overall.

          GM’s brands are really just a marketing group that paid for their product needs by sourcing the designed from their internal design teams.

          I am not saying that is plus or negative. It is just how it works.

          But for brands such as Cadillac, it appears to be negative because people will always view its cars as a “premium leather covered” Chevy so people aren’t willing to pay premium price as they do with BMW/Mercedes/Jaguar/Range Rover…

          1. QCO says:

            The new GM isn’t quite so segmented as the old GM you describe.

          2. wavelet says:

            Doesn’t work like that and hasn’t for years (I think you’re describing the 1970s). GM in the US is centralized (Opel is a different story),The badge is simply a badge.

            Quite a few cars get sold in various countries under different badges depending on what they think will sell best.

      2. georgeS says:

        @PMPU
        “I’m of the opinion that GM should create a new badge for its PEVs (Plug-in EVs), or perhaps revive the Pontiac badge. Giving the PEVs their own separate dealerships would eliminate the problem of most stealerships wanting to “steer” customers into buying a gasmobile rather than a PEV.”

        It’s a great idea.

        The only problem is the dealers make most of their money on service and not much selling new cars. Then add the fact that their EV’s require little for a service department to do since EV’s have higher reliability.

        I was in the Scottsdale Tesla Service center and I got another “free fix” on my old Model S #1682.

        The nice service guy told me “we don’t really make any money here” and I can believe it.

        1. ModernMarvelFan says:

          Don’t forget used car sals.

          Dealers easily make more money on used car sales than new cars sales.

          1. georgeS says:

            @MMF
            “Dealers easily make more money on used car sales than new cars sales.”

            good point, not a bad idea. There’s terrific value in a used Volt if you are just getting started. ..and in 3 years there will be used BoltEV’s that will be a screaming deal.

            1. ModernMarvelFan says:

              I already got a Volt and my local dealer want it “back so badly” for used car sales so I can upgrade to the new Volt.

              I don’t know who really fall for those kind of marketing tricks..

              But dealers often have plenty of trade-ins to sell and they usually make up a good portion of the profits especially those “certified and pre-owned models”…

          2. ffbj says:

            Very true, because of the mark down when bought or traded in and the mark up on the trade in when they sell it.

        2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

          Dealers don’t make any significant money on warranty service anymore. This talking point is from EV1 times, along with “doesn’t need to clean carburetor in electric car” talking point.
          Cars got much more reliable and automakers pay low rates on warranty repair. Synthetic oil is changed once a year only. Dealers keep repair service because they are required to keep it to be able to sell cars.

          1. ffbj says:

            A blanket generalization that may have elements of truth for specific dealerships but can not be evenly applied across the board to all dealerships.
            It’s not mutually exclusive, they may be required to have service, but that does not mean they are not going to make money in those departments.

    2. Spider-Dan says:

      If they’re going to revive a badge just for EVs, Saturn makes the most sense. Pontiac is more associated with muscle cars.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        They don’t need to revive another brand.

        They just need to sell the model under the brand that gives them the best chance to succeed.

        In China, that is Buick. In US, that is Chevy since Buick dealers are few in between and Cadillac is run by an anti-EV excutive. So, Chevy is all it got.

        Volt/Bolt/Spark can’t exist as a brand by itself because it can’t sell enough to sustain that division alone and it will never be able to pay for itself. That was the problem with Saturn.

        1. georgeS says:

          @MMF
          “In China, that is Buick.”

          As it should have been in the US IMO.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            The problem is that you can hardly find a Buick dealer these days in the US. They are cutting back significantly since the 2008 bankruptcy.

            Yes, the concept Buick Electra was hot!

            But I think Buick brand name has been damaged unfairly in the US. Maybe the next generation won’t know that Buick used to equal to old people car and might want to start buying Buick again. We will see.

            1. QCO says:

              The real problem is the Chevrolet brand is still seen as low end in the US. No one in my socio-economic group would be caught dead in one.

              It’s a legacy of GM’s century old strategy of a different brand for every income group. Eliminating half the brands doesn’t change the perception of the remaining one over night.

  11. Steve Z1 says:

    Here is my wish. The Buick version will likely have some creature comforts that are missing in the Volt but available in the ELR, first power seats with memory function, Homelink garage door opener are my top two.

    I am hoping in time, these will be offered on the Volt. Meantime we will continue to enjoy our ELR and tell people there is no 4 door version of our car with the features we want, oh well there is the Tesla , but we love our car just fine! So many people like the design and features of this car and are always surprised GM made this car and ask the back story. GM did a horrible car marketing it.

    OK back to comment, GM please offer a Volt Premium Plus or a Buick version. You can import with the CT6 and Envision already on their way from China.

    PS Preferred made in the USA.

  12. ffbj says:

    This on the reordering of Caddilac dealerships:
    “Project Pinnacle, which begins Jan. 1, overhauls how Cadillac distributes incentives to its dealers by separating stores into five tiers based predominately on sales volume. Larger stores can earn the biggest incentives by meeting the most stringent standards, while the smallest stores would have more relaxed requirements but be barred from stocking vehicles on site, instead having customers order vehicles through a virtual showroom approach.”

    That last part sounds familiar. Virtual showrooms? What a concept.

  13. Maybe the Chinese will like the looks of the new Volt, but I am not I impressed. I have a GEN1 and it has much more exterior style.