Remember when the North American International Auto Show, popularly known as NAIAS, was the premier auto show on the planet? My, how things have changed. Today if you want to glimpse the future of the automobile, you need to travel to Guangzhou or Shanghai. Last week, Genesis, the luxury brand from Hyundai, and Buick (which is considered a luxury brand in China) took the wraps off two new electric vehicles, one an all-wheel drive SUV and the other a minivan from Buick, although there is absolutely nothing “mini” about it.
The Genesis Electrified GV70
Genesis already makes a GV70 SUV with a gasoline engine. Not much is known about the battery operated version other than it will come only with dual electric motors and sprint to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds in “Boost Mode.” Charging speeds of up to 350 kW are possible, making replenishing the battery from 10% to an 80% state of charge in under 20 minutes possible.
According to Green Car Reports, one of the two motors can be deactivated under some conditions, probably to increase range, but the company isn’t saying which one. GCR also says the car uses the dual mode 400/800 volt architecture found on other electric cars from Hyundai Motor Group that use its E-GMP chassis.
Other than a new grille and a redesigned rear tray with no tailpipe outlets, the electric looks virtually the same as the gas-powered version. Autoblog waxes eloquent about the styling, but to our eye, that descending character line at the rear of the car looks out of place. In fact, from the side, everything after the rear doors looks like a hot mess. Most manufacturers today have similar lines that start and end seemingly at random but we expect better from Genesis, which has the benefit of Hyundai’s usually excellent design staff.
One thing the Electrified does have, according to Autoweek, is the Preview Electronic Control Suspension from the upmarket GV80. It uses a camera to collect information about the road ahead, then automatically adjusts the dampers to provide the smoothest ride possible. The Electrified GV70 also comes with active noise-cancelling technology and a 3.6 kW vehicle-to-load feature that allows the owner to power a variety of household appliances and and other electric items from the car’s traction battery.
GCR says the car is definitely coming to America and may also be manufactured in the US. No doubt, the final configuration of the government’s EV rebate policies will play a role in the final decision about where to build the car.
Buick GL8 Flagship Concept
Also at the Guangzhou show this week, Buick introduced its GL8 Flagship Concept. If you think the styling of the GV70 is a trifle odd, the GL8 is just plain out there. Like many minivan designs today, it looks likes two separate designs were smooshed together by a committee. And it sports a front grille that would make a BWM iX blush.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. Autoblog says, “The exterior is meant to be luxurious and ‘dynamic’ looking with its mix of colors, glass canopy roof, wing shaped headlights, and highly sculpted body. There’s hardly a piece on the car that isn’t making a statement and the highlights continue when you open the doors.”
“Inside,” Autoblog adds, “there are four zero gravity lounge style seats. The cabin as a whole is inspired by Chinese mountain and water landscapes, which could explain the multi-colored floor. The blue section looks like it could be the water at the base of a mountain surrounded by a beach.”
Features include a tea tray, 30-inch driver display, touchscreen on the steering wheel, a heads-up display that spreads across the entire windshield, and a new audio system that features speakers in the headrests. [The Mazda Miata pioneered that idea 30 years ago]. Buick says all the car’s functions can be controlled by voice commands.
Autoblog positively gushes over the car. “Beyond the obviously futuristic touches, this Buick minivan is just plain gorgeous. Its gold, blue, and cream color combo and various materials used throughout look like top notch luxury. We’d love to see some of this attention to detail and luxury trickle down into some of Buick’s production cars.”
Production plans? None that we know of, and most of the models Buick offers in China are not available in other countries. Still, concept cars are intended to get feedback from potential customers, so how this design is received in China could influence cars from Buick (or other GM divisions) in the future.