Last week Road & Track gave us the lovely Volt convertible, and while GM has no plans for a drop-top plug-in they are apparently developing a Buick Volt. Will the Volt’s high price go down easier with a Buick badge?
From the start, the Chevrolet Volt’s Voltec technology was designed to underpin more than just one vehicle. One Voltec concept GM unveiled was the Cadillac Converj, which was greenlighted and then apparently cancelled (though the Cadillac lineup could really use something with at least a pretense of fuel economy.) There have also been rumors of a Volt-based van, another likely candidate. But how about a Buick? It makes sense, as GM has already debuted its new “eAssist” mild hybrid technology on the Buick Regal and Lacrosse, so the next step would be some variation on the Volt.
Except it won’t be a Volt, if Bloomberg’s report is to be believed. Rather, it would be a re-badged Opel Ampera, the Volt’s sophisticated European cousin. It would get a Buick-styled front end and grille, of course, but considering that the Volt is rather competitively loaded with features already, will GM figure out even more features to add? On the same token, while the Opel Ampera will cost almost $60,000 in Europe, it is actually being built alongside the Volt in Warren, Michigan, meaning GM could rather easily slap a different front fascia on the Ampera and actually make a profit on it thanks to the Buick badge.
Red flags pop up every time GM and badge engineering are mentioned, though it’s a fact that Ford, Chrysler/Fiat, and the Nissan-Renault Alliance are all trying to get the most vehicles out of a limited number of platforms to save on manufacturing and tooling costs. Personally, I hope they inject a little more power into the Buick Volt, give it some extra oomph to differentiate it from the Volt. Many people my age don’t realize that Buick has a history of some pretty cutting-edge sports cars, among them the GSX and Grand National. I wonder what they’ll all the Buick Volt? Any suggestions?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.