First launched in 1903, the Buick brand has been around for over a century. On June 1, the Buick division, now sitting on the luxury scale between Chevrolet and Cadillac as the General Motors brand, announced that it would launch its first all-electric model for the 2024 model year next year. This will be the first in a long series of EVs for Buick, as it has announced that this new EV will be the springboard to transform Buick into an all-electric brand. And looking at the future of the brand, Buick Electra is reviving the name and looking at its own past.
The name Electra was introduced in 1959, and refers to the largest and most luxurious model of the Buick available at the time, with slots on top of the Invicta and Lesbra. For more than three decades, the Electra has been a large luxury American luxury cruiser. Its size dwindled in the late 1970s in response to competition and rising fuel prices, but the General Motors lineup of automobiles continued to fill the same slot. The name was last used in 1990 when the sixth-generation Electra was replaced by a brand new car called Park Avenue.
For the past two decades, Buick has been a relatively indifferent brand without an introduction. Its resonance with the Chinese market kept it alive through the 2008 financial crisis, which former GM Stablemate Oldsmobile claimed. For many years, the brand’s American dealerships have been floating around, mainly with rebranded imports from Germany and South Korea. Once a vibrant and full-fledged sub-luxury automaker, the Buick has now been relegated to a lineup of just three crossovers of various sizes.
The company is now poised to transform itself into an all-electric brand by the end of the decade, embarking on the aforementioned Electra – a name that has long since died out. From next year, however, the Buick brand will use that long-extinct name as a sub-brand for all of its battery electric vehicles.
“The Buick brand is committed to an all-electric future by the end of this decade,” said Duncan Aldred, global vice president, Buick and GMC, in a release. “Buick’s new logo, the use of the Electra naming series, and the appearance of a new design for our future products will transform the brand.”
As part of the June 1 announcement, the Buick brand also rolled out new concept car packages to help showcase the future of design language. Also inspired by a nameplate from Buick’s past, the new Wildcat EV concept proves that the brand and its artists can still bring the aesthetics of an inspired and progressive-thinking design.
“The Wildcat EV concept represents the future of real design for the brand,” said Sharon Gaussi, executive director of Global Book and GMC Design. “Buick is always looking forward and this expression is a glimpse of where we are going, and our optimism for the limitless possibilities of the electrical future.”
The concept 2 + 2 (which refers to the two front seats and the two rear seats) makes the coupe so attractive that it has not been buoyed for some time, giving the brand the elegance it once had in a spade. There’s a mix of sporty performance and luxury that gives the concept a visual hook almost like a Lexus. Unlike many concept cars in the recent past, the Buick does not cite any performance statistics or headline-grabbing power numbers from outside the world. The company clearly wanted the design to stand on its own merits, demonstrating what the electric Buick models might look like in the future.
This conversion to EVs, and a new design language previewed by Wildcat, Buick is also refreshing its logo. The company’s tri-shield badge, which has remained unchanged for more than thirty years, is also getting a whole new look.
In January 2021, General Motors pledged to discontinue sales of all petrol and diesel-powered light-duty vehicles by 2035, all its brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. Buick, it seems, is pushing that goal forward in half a decade by shutting down all internal combustion products before 2030. The remaining three models of the company are getting quite long in the teeth, so the lineup is already there for a refresh.
Watch a video about Wildcat EV below: