Buick Revives Electra Name for Upcoming EVs

Photo credit: General Motors
Photo credit: General Motors
  • Starting in 2024, Buick will apply the Electra name to its first EV for the US, sharing GM’s Ultium battery architecture with the Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummers, and Chevy Silverado EV.

  • Before the EV arrives, a new gasoline-powered vehicle will come next year, to be followed by other ICE-based Buicks before decade’s end. Buick will be all-electric by 2030.

  • Also today, GM China announces Buick will introduce 12 new products—including five all-new electric vehicles in China—by 2025.

There might be a lot of buzz around battery-electric startups and their youthful spirit unfettered by long-standing corporate cultures that span decades at deeply rooted, legacy automakers. But occasionally it’s the sense of brand heritage that can become a distinct advantage.

Today, General Motors breathes new life into its Buick brand with a commitment to have an all-electric portfolio by 2030 and in the process revives a model name that is ideal for an EV brand—a name any startup automaker would be thrilled to have in its portfolio: Electra.

General Motors produced six generations of Electra sedans, coupes, convertibles, and even an Estate wagon between 1959 and 1990, and during those years it’s doubtful the Buick product planners realized the Electra name, in a world of electric vehicles, would be such a perfect fit.

Starting in 2024, Buick will apply the Electra name to its first EV for the US, which will share GM’s Ultium battery architecture that also underpins the Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummers, and Chevy Silverado EV. But the Electra won’t fly solo. Brand executives say Electra will be a series of Buick EVs with alphanumeric names based on body style and size.

Photo credit: General Motors
Photo credit: General Motors

We won’t see a production version of the first Electra EV for awhile, but for now Buick unveils its dramatic Wildcat EV concept to hint at a new global brand design language, elements of which (such as a sleek new Buick badge) will be seen on production vehicles as soon as next year.

“We'll be introducing a new vehicle which will be the first vehicle to wear the new logo next next year in showrooms and also the first EV in 2024, so that's fantastic,” Duncan Aldred, global vice president of Buick and GMC, said during a media call this morning.

That first vehicle arriving next year with the new logo will be gasoline-powered, to be followed by other ICE-based Buicks before decade’s end. Stay tuned for more details on this first reveal, but Buick’s product forecast, according to LMC Automotive and Wards Intelligence, calls for a small five-passenger front-wheel-drive crossover in 2023.

Photo credit: General Motors
Photo credit: General Motors

The Wildcat announcement coincides with GM China announcing that Buick will introduce 12 new products—including five all-new electric vehicles in China—by 2025. They include two EVs that will be revealed this year as part of the Ultium platform and will cover the mainstream MPV, SUV, and sedan segments. All will bear the Electra name.

Yes, the Wildcat concept is a gorgeous, ground-hugging, two-door coupe representing a brand that only sells crossovers in the US at the moment. Aldred said on the media call that Buick will remain focused on popular crossovers and SUVs, but he didn’t close the door on returning to sedans, coupes, or convertibles in the US.

Photo credit: General Motors
Photo credit: General Motors

“We could possibly go into other body styles,” he said, declining to comment further but acknowledging that Buick has a much broader vehicle mix in China. “We've got a whole variety of body styles in our China market from sedans to CUVs to SUVs to MPVs, so that really sums up globally where we are.”

Buick’s new tri-shield logo, rooted in company founder David Dunbar Buick’s ancestral heraldry, represents the first significant update since 1990. The three shields now are free standing, rather than being surrounded by a circle, and will appear on the front fascia of Buicks starting next year.

“Our forthcoming products will adopt a new design language that emphasizes a sleek, dynamic and forward-looking appearance,” said Sharon Gauci, executive director of Global Buick and GMC Design. “Our exteriors will incorporate fluid movements that contrast with tension to convey motion. Interiors will balance modern design, new technologies and attention to detail to evoke warmth and a rich sensory experience.”

Photo credit: General Motors
Photo credit: General Motors

Buick first used the Wildcat name for a concept car in 1953, followed by the Wildcat II in 1954 and Wildcat III in 1955, s since 1953, all overseen by chief designer Harley Earl. Another Wildcat concept—a futuristic mid-engine AWD supercar—debuted in 1985.

The latest Wildcat EV concept introduces a bold, forward-leaning front end with a low-mounted, trapezoidal grille and sharp, high-mounted check mark-shaped lighting.

This 2+2 coupe with a powerful visual presence and low, wide stance features a windshield that wraps around and flows into the side glass, as well as Jet Age-inspired 18-spoke “turbine” wheels.

Photo credit: General Motors
Photo credit: General Motors

Inside, the Wildcat EV concept is designed to be alluring and comforting, highlighting new technologies. The center console extends from the base of the instrument panel to the rear seating area and uses graphic and color contrasts to create the perception of visually floating elements, to accentuate spaciousness.

Incorporating artificial intelligence, biometrics, and aromatherapy, the concept car is designed to detect an elevation in driver heart rate and automatically adjust vehicle settings to calm them down. When activated, Zen Mode will dim the cabin lights, disperse calming aromatherapy scents and activate massaging seats.

Are you excited about Buick's prospects after seeing the Wildcat concept? Please comment below.