The Chevy Volt Is Going to China Dressed as a Buick

The Velite 5 is further proof that China is bonkers for Buick.

byEric Brandt| UPDATED Apr 20, 2017 1:59 PM
The Chevy Volt Is Going to China Dressed as a Buick

General Motors is bringing the second-gen Chevy Volt to China in the form of a plug-in hybrid called the Buick Velite 5. It will be the second car after a hybrid LaCrosse to be part of China’s “Buick Blue” line of environmentally friendly vehicles.

China is crazy about Buick and they’re the main reason the brand survived GM’s 2009 reorganization. While we know Buick in the US mostly as rebadged Chevys and Opels, they enjoy massive success in China even compared to other luxury marques.

Pricing will be nearly identical to the Volt coming in at the equivalent of $33,300 USD for the base GL trim and about $37,700 for the high-end GS trim. After the New Energy Vehicle government subsidy, out-the-door pricing for this car will start at under $30k.

The Velite 5 has a lot in common with the Volt, but the Buick will be a bit nicer. The exterior is slightly different, but still clearly a reskinned Volt. The interior is more upscale than the Chevy with a key difference being an upgraded air-filtration system to deal with heavy smog in Chinese cities.

What’s mysterious is the range difference. The Chevy and the Buick are mechanically almost identical with two electric motors, a lithium ion battery, and a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, but the Buick claims a pure-electric range of 72 miles and a total range of 477 miles. That’s quite different from the Volt’s advertised 53-mile electric range and 420-mile total range. The difference likely comes from different testing methodologies.

Don’t expect to see the Buick Velite 5 in the US for two reasons; it’s too similar to the Volt and the Cadillac ELR was a commercial disaster. With strict new emissions regulation coming soon for China and the region’s obsession with Buick, the Velite 5 is the right car in the right place at the right time.