DETROIT — General Motors on Wednesday unveiled the Buick Wildcat, a new concept car designed to signal a revolutionary shift for the brand as it will offer electric vehicles only in North America by the end of this decade.
The car reflects the future design and technology directions of the 119-year-old brand, including a significantly redesigned logo for the first time in over 30 years.
Buick marketing manager Rob Peterson said elements of the Wildcat will be included in Buick vehicles — both traditional internal combustion engine vehicles and electric vehicles — starting next year.
“It’s a very, very important concept for the Buick brand because it takes us in a new direction,” he told CNBC in an interview.
A new gas-powered SUV with the new features and logo will be unveiled this fall for the US market, Peterson said. It should go on sale next year.
Although Buick is GM’s smallest vehicle line in the United States, the brand is hugely important to the automaker in China, where it has been a top luxury player for decades.
GM said that by 2035 it plans to offer only electric vehicles. Its luxury brand Cadillac has also set a separate goal of being fully electric by 2030.
New EV in 2024
Buick said its first electric vehicle for the United States is expected in 2024 on GM Ultium battery platform. It will be followed by several new electric vehicles, and by 2030 the brand will no longer offer internal combustion engine vehicles in North America, Peterson said.
Buick’s future electric vehicles will launch under the Electra name, a former vehicle name used by the brand for decades until 1990. Buick has used the Wildcat name for nearly 70 years, including for other vehicles concept and production cars in the 1960s and 1970s.
The company is counting on its shift to electric vehicles to help shed its lackluster image as a builder of vehicles for seniors and to help attract new, younger buyers.
“The best way to change personality is through design language and messaging, and I think the sophistication of this new design language will be one of the fastest ways to get more people thinking about it. “, said Peterson. “We will not miss this opportunity.”
Not only does the concept vehicle sport a new logo and design, but it’s also a smaller and sleeker Buick than what’s currently on the market. The brand has exclusively offered crossovers or SUVs since the 2021 model year.
Automakers routinely use concept vehicles to gauge customer interest or show the future direction of a vehicle or brand. The vehicles are not intended for sale to consumers.
Peterson said Buick will continue to focus on producing new SUVs, though he hasn’t completely given up on the idea of launching a car for the brand at some point.
Buick chose to debut a concept car, instead of an SUV, to help with its dynamic looks and proportions, said Therese Pinazzo, Buick’s exterior and interior design manager.
“We’re all about sculptural beauty. It’s the new face of Buick, and it really allows us to have a perfect canvas,” she said. “It ends up being a philosophical and visual expression of the future of the brand.”
The exterior of the vehicle is much more aggressive than the brand’s current models, with a large low grille with horizontal lines and new “winged” headlights at the front and rear. The vehicle roof around the doors also tilts for easier entry and exit.
Inside the four-seater is a floating center console that extends from the front of the vehicle to the rear seats.
It features white seats with red seat belts surrounded by a “legato” green interior. The control panel is a 30.4-inch LCD display and a semi-clear steering wheel.
Buick’s new logo uses the brand’s three crests, which date back to the 1950s, but in a more modern and streamlined way. The concept vehicle’s main logos feature illuminated “winged” hockey sticks, while the wheels had the background of the sticks filled in Buick’s signature red, white, and blue colors.
“A new logo symbolizing our new direction, the adoption of Electra as a series of names and a new aesthetic for our lineup all serve as cornerstones of this significant transformation,” said Duncan Aldred, global head of Buick, in a press release.
Buick’s new logo on the Wildcat concept car.
The Wildcat is the brand’s first concept vehicle in the United States since a well-received coupe called the Buick Avista in 2016. Buick China Operations last week announced a concept electric SUV for that market.