RICK KRANZ

Buick rolls out plug-in hybrid concept

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

Back in January, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson said plug-in hybrid technology likely would expand to the Cadillac SRX by 2012 or 2013.

Now it looks like Buick might be the next brand on the plug-in list.

A brief announcement on GM's China Web site offers a little information about a new Buick concept, the Envision SUV. The world debut takes place April 18 at the Shanghai motor show.

In the news release, GM said the Buick concept features advanced hybrid technology. The release is unclear, however, if this is GM's current or second-generation plug-in hybrid technology. Today, the Chevrolet Volt is GM's only plug-in hybrid.

The Envision was jointly developed by Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center.

"The concept integrates global design with local aesthetics for the China market, adhering to Buick's dynamic, fluid, quiet and comfortable design essence," according to the news release.

Buick spokesman Nick Richards said, "SUVs are a growing market over there and it is important to demonstrate the possibilities for Buick." In a telephone interview today, Richards said the Envision was created specifically for China.

But he did not say if a Buick crossover or other model is planned for the United States with plug-in hybrid technology.

Said Richards: "Obviously the company is bullish on the technology. We have had people [at GM] say we will expand to other brands."

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