A few weeks ago, CEO Mary Barra said that General Motors' future electrification push would be more multi-pronged than initially claimed. Perhaps this could be a tacit admission that its full EV push via the Ultium platform isn’t going smoothly, but I prefer to think that this is GM attempting to cast a wider net and offer more electrified options that aren’t ready, willing, or able to make the jump to full electrification. Still, when Barra made the announcement, it wasn’t quite clear what model could become a plug-in hybrid.

With the advent of the Beijing Auto Show, I think we have a potential answer: it’s the Equinox. A PHEV called the Chevrolet Equinox Plus was officially announced in China earlier today.


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The market is thirsty for hybrids

GM's new electrified push now will include plug-in hybrids. After killing the Chevrolet Volt in 2018, the market has come to embrace hybrid power. GM has said that still plans to go fully electric by 2035. 

Just like us, China also will get two different models that share the same name, the Equinox EV, and the standard gas-powered Equinox, which was recently unveiled here in North America for the 2025 model year. In China, this model is made by SAIC-GM (just like its mechanical sister, the Buick Envision), whereas ours will be made in Mexico. Both markets use a similar 1.5-liter turbocharged engine mated to either a CVT automatic in front-wheel-drive guise or an eight-speed automatic when equipped with AWD. 

But, SAIC-GM will also be making a third variant: a PHEV. Details are still somewhat scarce, but the Equinox Plus uses a similar 1.5-liter turbo, albeit with 170 horsepower instead of 175 as the standard model, and a 188-horsepower electric motor. An electric battery made by BYD’s battery manufacturing subsidiary FinDreams of unspecified size will allow the Equinox Plus to drive around on full electric power. We do know that the Equinox Plus’s battery will be of the LFP type.

Likewise, it’s not clear exactly how the Equinox Plus will drive on the roads. Will it be a typical PHEV like, say, a Kia Niro? Or will it skew more toward the EREV (extended range EV), where the vehicle’s primary propulsion will be via the electric motor, and its gas engine is merely there to act as a generator, akin to the original Chevrolet Volt? We won’t know until the crossover is on the roads. Whatever the case, SAIC-GM says the Equinox will be the first model to use its new generation of smart plug-in hybrid technology.

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From what we can see in the handful of teaser images that SAIC-GM released, the Equinox Plus is pretty similar to what we’ve seen on the gas-powered Equinox set to go on sale this summer. Remember, the Equinox and Equinox EV are totally different cars despite sharing a name. That difference is pretty apparent with the Equinox’s styling, it is far more upright and blocky compared to the fairly svelte and long appearance of the Equinox EV. This Equinox Plus does have smoother, closed-off-looking wheels, but as a whole, the Equinox Plus looks the same as its gas-powered Equinox sister. 

So far, the Equinox Plus is yet another electrified GM China-only exclusive. However, given GM’s renewed desire to make hybrids, I can’t help but think that we’ll probably see the Equinox Plus on our shores sooner rather than later. We should know more about the Equinox Plus before it makes its debut at the Beijing Auto Show at the end of April. 

Contact the author: kevin.williams@insideevs.com

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