Tucked away at the far end of McCormick Place, almost invisible next to the Joe Perillo luxury car display was Buick. While Buick doesn’t draw much attention at auto shows, they had a smart new concept car called the Wildcat on display and as soon as you saw it, you couldn’t take your eyes off it. We’ve seen the Wildcat name used by Buick before. There have been at least four concept cars over the last several decades that used the name “Wildcat.” It’s an important name for Buick. This is the newest Wildcat concept car and it’s a stunner. Further, it’s important because while it won’t see production, it lays down the design language for future Buick production cars.
Buick is the smallest automotive brand in the US. Its only US products are three attractive SUV’s that seem to sell well, but certainly don’t set any records. In China however, Buick is still revered as a luxury icon from the pre-Mao days and GM has worked hard to maintain that reputation in China. So while it may seem to be overlooked here in the US, it is promoted heavily in China and may be one of the key’s to GM’s future success.
To that end, seeing that the market is on the cusp of fully transitioning to full EV products, Buick felt that now is the right time to reinvent itself and charge headlong into the EV game. The first step of that reinvention is a new design language. Drawing from it’s past as well as creating some new design language elements, Buick has created the Wildcat. A swoopy 2+2 coupe with details that we’ll see on upcoming models. Even the logo is redesigned. No longer three simple shields encompassed in a circle, the Wildcat has three shields with the trademark “hockey stick” on them, but each shield stands alone, one next to the other. It’s a bolder, more confident looking badge and we really liked it.
The large front grille, though unnecessary on an EV, looks aggressive and suggests power in reserve. The sweeping, sculptural curves of the body suggest muscle, power, and yet somehow, seductive feminine beauty. The multi-circuit taillights that sweep down from the roofline and flare out into the rear fenders are hypnotic. It’s going to be interesting to see how this translates into an SUV body.
Inside, the 2+2 layout appears to offer plenty of airiness and legroom. The floating center console keeps things looking lightweight and spacious. The dashboard is a beautifully sculpted digital screen, displaying all the gauges. The seats are nearly futuristic post-modernist things of beauty, if that’s even a thing. They remind one of GM’s Autorama show cars but more inviting and more comfortable.
Buick says we can expect to see these design cues in their next model, a gas-engined SUV due out later this year, and will continue to grow and evolve as more of their lineup becomes electric. Their first pure EV will hit the market likely in 2024 and they expect to offer only EV’s by 2030.
Their EV’s will be called “Electra” followed by an alphanumeric suffix. The ‘Electra” name is also a throwback to a classic Buick model that was manufactured from 1959 to 1990. It’s the perfect name for an electric vehicle and Buick saw the perfect opportunity to bring it back in order to tie it’s future to it’s past.