Will the American public accept it?
Buick's first EV will be called the Electra, which will debut in the US in 2024. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to be the 580-horsepower Electra that made its debut in 2020 in concept form.
A Buick spokesperson confirmed the news of the Electra's name and arrival to Car and Driver. The big question is which version of the Electra it will be. Buick filed a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) in November for the names Electra E1 through to Electra E9. CarBuzz also uncovered a trademark for Electra GS, hinting at a high-performance model.
The most likely candidate is the Electra E5, which recently made its debut in China, but will it be a success?
Buick's Electra E5 was launched in China as part of the SAIC-GM joint venture. This joint venture is a 50/50 partnership between General Motors and SAIC Motor Corporation. The latter is a state-owned automotive manufacturer with a total output of roughly 5.4 million vehicles per year.
GM partnered with SAIC to manufacture and sell Chevrolets, Buicks, and Cadillacs in China, currently the biggest car market in the world.
The Electra E5 is an interesting car for several reasons. It's the first Buick to get the new logo debuted earlier this year, and it's Buick's first Ultium-based platform. Finally, it's the first Buick to feature the company's new design direction, previewed by the previously mentioned 2020 Electra concept. A more refined version of the concept, known as the Electra-X, was shown earlier this year.
The Electra E5 shares a platform with the upcoming 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV. Buick's Electra is 2.2 inches longer, but if you look a the two cars side by side, it's pretty evident that it's mostly down to longer overhangs.
Buick did not provide interior images or powertrain details, but since it's so closely related to the Equinox, it's easy to guesstimate. Chevy's Equinox will be available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive guises. The base FWD model is powered by a single motor that produces 210 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque. An AWD system adds another motor to the rear axle, taking power up to 290 hp and 346 lb-ft. Chevrolet also has two battery options, and the long-range battery will get you 300 miles in FWD format.
Crucially, the Equinox will enter the market at a price of $30,000, and it will qualify for the $7,500 tax credit under the new Inflation Reduction Act regulations since it will be built in Mexico. The Equinox's price is also far below the average price of a new EV these days.
Knowing all of the above, one has to wonder why Buick would bother importing the Electra from China. Thanks to comments made during the Equinox EV launch, we know that the compact crossover EV segment will become significant in the coming years, but the Buick has several things counting against it.
First, there's a deeply rooted anti-China sentiment in the USA, even though most of the racist comments we see regularly are almost certainly made from Chinese-made smartphones. Secondly, manufacturers can't hide badge engineering anymore, and consumers are savvier than ever. Finally, being made in China, there's no way it will qualify for a tax credit.
Perhaps Buick is planning to launch a more upmarket EV. It has nine numbers to work with and might even come in with a model that sits above the Equinox but below the Blazer EV.