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Buick Makes eAssist Standard on Compact Regal

Also introduces automatic option on sporty GS.

by on Feb.07, 2012

The 2012 Buick Regal shown with Regals past.

Buick will drop the conventionally-powered I-4 version of its Regal model, making the “mild” hybrid eAssist the standard powertrain for the compact sedan starting in 2013.

That’s the same strategy that the maker has taken with the midsize Buick LaCrosse.  In the smaller Regal, the gas-electric driveline delivers as much as 36 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.

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Meanwhile, the mid-luxury General Motors brand has announced it will introduce a new automatic gearbox for the sporty, turbocharged version of the compact sedan, the Regal GS.  Until now, it has only been available with a six-speed stick, a sales-limiting factor in today’s U.S. market.

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First Drive: 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist

Getting a (battery) boost.

by on Jul.01, 2011

Buick makes the eAssist system standard on the 2012 LaCrosse sedan.

We’ve come to think of hybrids as an expensive option – requiring a buyer to pay an often stiff premium in exchange for higher mileage.  But Buick has something different in mind.

Starting in August, the General Motors division will offer its LaCrosse sedan in two new ways, with an improved 3.6-lirer V-6 engine that adds 26 more horsepower, or with a 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine with its new eAssist mild hybrid system, which will be standard equipment, not an option.

Buick says the combination of the gasoline engine and the power booster will improve fuel mileage to an EPA 25 city, 36 highway, best in class, without the cost, weight and complexity of a full hybrid system.

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The eAssist system is a combination of a 32-cell lithium-ion battery pack, a motor/generator unit, the control electronics, and a clever belt-drive system that adds torque directly to the engine’s crankshaft.  It’s an on-demand system designed to be used for startup acceleration, long uphill grades, and freeway on-ramps, adding about 15 horsepower to the engine’s 182 horsepower and 172 foot-pounds of torque.

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First Look: Buick Envision Plug-in Hybrid Concept

A hint of the future for the Buick brand?

by on Apr.19, 2011

The splashy debut of Buick's new Envision plug-in hybrid concept helped kick off the 2011 Shanghai Motor Show.

With an elaborately staged show worthy of a Las Vegas revue, General Motors unveiled a new Buick concept vehicle as Shanghai Auto 2011, China’s largest auto show, was getting underway.

The Buick Envision SUV is a plug-in hybrid concept vehicle merging Buick’s global design language with Chinese aesthetics – and a variety of high-tech features.

“The Envision has inherited Buick design DNA and taken the Buick global design language to a new height. It makes a significant statement for Buick styling and technology, and will influence upcoming models from the brand,” said Ed Welburn, GM vice president of global design, who was on hand for the official debut.

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The resurgent Buick brand now sells more cars in China than the U.S., and that has led GM to rely more and more on the Asian nation’s designers and engineers when developing new products for the marque.  Envision inherits the essence of Buick’s “fluid dynamics and peaceful comfort,” said Holt Ware, director of design at Shanghai GM’s PATAC technical center.

“It introduces the development direction for Buick’s future SUV products for the China market,” added Shi Hong, Director of Buick Marketing at Shanghai GM

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Buick Regal to Get New eAssist Drivetrain

At 37 mpg, a 25% mileage bump.

by on Feb.08, 2011

The eAssist system bumps Regal mileage to 37 mpg on the highway, 26 around town.

The new Buick Regal, currently an also-ran in the midsize mileage race, is about to get back in the game.

The maker will give Regal the same eAssist hybrid driveline used by the bigger Buick LaCrosse, it will formally announce at the Chicago Auto Show, this week.  That technology will bump fuel economy upwards by an estimated 25%.

While the Regal will still lag behind Ford’s 40+ mpg Fusion Hybrid, the Buick offering will still get a respectable 37 mpg on the City, according to preliminary estimates, and 26 mpg in city driving.

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And that’s a big improvement from the conventionally-powered sedans current 19 City/30 Highway rating.

The eAssist driveline is what generally is known as a “mild hybrid,” or “mybrid,” though General Motors prefers the term, “light electrification.”

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GM Tells Suppliers Keep Going on Cancelled Hybrid

Latest development confirms the survival of the plug-in GM needs for CAFE credits.

by on Sep.10, 2009

General Motors President and CEO Fritz Henderson announces the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle is expected to achieve a city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon.

General Motors President and CEO Fritz Henderson announces the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle is expected to achieve a city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon.

When General Motors eliminated half its brands, essentially overnight, it created turmoil in its product development program. For one thing, the sale of the Saturn division meant there’d be no home for the plug-in hybrid system that was supposed to be used on the brand’s 2011 Vue.

GM officials briefly considered giving a rebadged version of the Vue plug-in to Buick, one of the company’s four surviving North American brands, but pulled the plug on that idea, as well. However, sources confirmed for TheDetroitBureau.com last week that the technology won’t be abandoned, and while a final decision on where to use it has not been made, it would almost certainly show up in a Chevrolet or GMC model, most likely by the originally planned, 2011 model-year.

 The latest confirmation of this comes from suppliers to the program. GM is telling them to move ahead with plans for a plug-in hybrid despite the automaker’s decision to kill a Buick version of the plug-in hybrid that had garnered negative comments from potential consumers. 

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GM is now looking for new slot in its current lineup for the plug-in hybrid, according to Prabhakar Patil, the chief executive officer of Compact Power Inc. in Troy, Michigan.

Compact Power also is collaborating with GM on the Volt, and is in discussions with Eaton Corporation about producing lithium-ion batteries for trucks and commercial vehicles.

Compact Power is the North American subsidiary of LG Chem, one of the world’s largest producers of lithium-ion batteries for automotive hybrid electric vehicles and commercial and military markets.

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Abandoned GM Plug-In Hybrid Will Find New Home

Saturn gone, Buick nixed, plug-in will go to Chevy or GMC.

by on Sep.04, 2009

With Saturn to be sold, GM needs a new home for its Vue Plug-In Hybrid. Plans to give it to Buick were scrapped and it may now go to Chevy -- or GMC or Cadillac.

GM needs a new home for what was to have been the Saturn Vue Plug-In Hybrid. Plans to give it to Buick were scrapped and it may now go to Chevy -- or GMC or Cadillac.

When General Motors eliminated half its brands, essentially overnight, it created some significant turmoil in its product development program.  For one thing, the sale of the Saturn division meant there’d be no home for the plug-in hybrid system that was supposed to be used on the brand’s 2011 Vue.

GM officials briefly considered giving a thinly revised version of the Vue plug-in to Buick, one of the company’s four surviving North American brands, but pulled the plug on that idea, as well.  But, sources confirm for TheDetroitBureau.com, the technology won’t be abandoned, and while a final decision on where to use it has not been made, it will almost certainly show up in a Chevrolet or GMC model, most likely by the originally-planned, 2011 model-year.

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Like many of its competitors, GM is pushing heavy into “electrification,” the use of battery-powered hardware to either supplement or replace the time-tested internal combustion engine.  The well-publicized Chevy Volt is the prime example of this concept.  Though often casually described as a plug-in, Volt is actually an extended-range electric vehicle, or EREV.  The difference is subtle but significant, in that Volt’s wheel are always driven by electric motors.  Its lithium-ion battery pack has a suggested range of 40 miles, and after that, the EREV’s inline-four gasoline engine fires up – but only as a generator, giving it essentially unlimited range.

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Buick to Add Plug-in Hybrid Crossover in 2010

Five-passenger CUV shares key components with Chevy Volt.

by on Aug.06, 2009

Buick will launch an all-new small crossover in 2010, and introduce a version with a plug-in hybrid powertrain a year later.

Buick will launch a small crossover in 2010, and a version with a plug-in hybrid powertrain a year later.

General Motors has revealed plans to add a new plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle, or PHEV, to its line-up, a 5-passenger Buick crossover that will go debut in 2011, a year after a conventionally-powered version of the CUV will be launched.

The as yet-unnamed Buick, which GM expects to be the first commercially available plug-in SUV, will share many of its underlying components with the much-touted Chevrolet Volt, though there will be distinct, underlying differences between the two products.

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“This will firmly put Buick, and GM, front and center in the advanced technology game,” proclaimed Tom Stephens, GM’s new “car czar,” during a speech at the Management Briefing Seminars, and auto industry confab, in Traverse City, Michigan.  “Buick has always been at the forefront of new technology,” he added, “so it is only fitting that the brand should debut our new plug-in hybrid technology in a beautiful new crossover.”

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